They say software and cloud are the two most important things Microsoft that focuses on, and when it comes to it cloud offerings, Redmond rarely, rarely disappoints.

The company has just launched a massive set of improvements to the Windows Azure platform.

Windows Azure last received its scheduled upgrades some two weeks back, and just last week Microsoft updated the cloud platform with its Hadoop powered HDInsight service.

And today the company has announced yet another large update. Many new features are included, including the Windows Azure Import/Export service that customers can use to ship physical drives to a Windows Azure datacenter.

Microsoft VP Scott Guthrie had this to say on the matter:

“Once we receive the drives we’ll automatically transfer the data to or from your Windows Azure Storage account. This enables you to import or export massive amounts of data more quickly and cost effectively (and not be constrained by available network bandwidth).”

Only 3.5 inch SATA II drives are currently supported by this service, by the way.

And it uses BitLocker disk encryption so that the hard drives are safe from hackers in case of any misfortune accident during the shipment process.

Additionally, Microsoft has added a new Virtual Machine gallery that makes it easier for Windows Azure customers to make new VMs in the cloud. New search and sorting options are included, along with a way to filter images that, for example, use prerelease software.

You can take a look at the complete details at the link above — the improvements are literally too many to list, such is the scope of this new update.

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