Eight, it seems, is the new great. Looks like Microsoft saved a bunch of updates to Windows Azure as early Christmas presents. Just as the year is about to say goodbye, Microsoft asked its cloud users to say hello to several new features and improvements.

These were announced by Scott Guthrie in a (very) short blog post on the company’s MSDN blog. The improvements went live in production, and were available for use immediately. The list of what is included in the update includes stuff like:

  • Mobile Services (job scheduler support, Europe Region Support, Command Line Support)
  • Web Sites (scale improvements, integrated source control)
  • SQL Data Sync (support in the new HTML portal)
  • ACS Management (support in the new HTML portal)
  • Media Services (job and task management, blob storage support, reserved compute)
  • Virtual Network enhancements
  • Subscription Filtering Support
  • Windows Azure Store (now available in more countries)

A much more detailed explanation of feature is available on Scott’s blog over at ASP.NET.

Essentially with this update Microsoft is bringing the fight to Amazon’s AWS, with features like mobile services, website scaling and data sync. Windows Azure along with AWS takes the first two spots in the cloud computing market according to a recent Forrester report.

Windows Azure has seen a lot of updates this past year, as Microsoft tries to become more competitive with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Azure is still a while away from being a legitimate challenger, but the way things are going it is shaping up to be the most interesting number one contender.

Things like these will only breed more confidence in the (growing) developer community on the Azure platform, showcasing the credibility that the Azure team possesses.

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