Windows Azure: Free Developers Course

Windows Azure is a key part of Microsoft’s “Cloud” strategy moving into the future but of course, it needs people to use it and develop for it for it to be truly successful. They are piloting a new way of training developers & architects Azure, via self paced, web based training…best of all it’s FREE!

The method is one that I’m quite familiar with which aims to offer the best features of classroom training without the hassles and expense of travel, hotels, being out of the office for days etc. It utilises:

  • Interactive Live Meeting sessions with a tutor
  • On-line videos
  • Hands on Labs
  • E-Learning
  • Weekly Assessments

to cover off the topics, and you don’t need to go anywhere! The course lasts for 6 weeks from:

May 10th – June 18th

and covers:

Week 1 – Windows Azure Platform
Week 2 – Windows Azure Storage
Week 3 – Windows Azure Deep Dive and Codename "Dallas"
Week 4 – SQL Azure
Week 5 – Windows Azure Platform AppFabric Access Control
Week 6 – Windows Azure Platform AppFabric Service Bus

and did I mention it’s FREE?!

This is aimed at developers, architects, programmers and system designers and recommends at least 6 months experience programming in .NET and Visual Studio.

It will take around 4 to 5 hours a week to research and complete the tasks and there are timelines etc for submitting the work. However, successful completion gets you a “Microsoft Certificate of Completion” :-)

This is a new approach from Microsoft and one that I hope will be expanded out to other product areas.


You can find more information and sign up here:

If you’re technically minded and interested in Azure, sign up…and get any colleagues/friends that would be interested to sign up too!

I’ve registered and am looking forward to it so hopefully I’ll see you there :-)

VStudio 2010 release date delayed

VStudio 2010, the latest version of Microsoft’s development product suite, was slated to be released March 22 2010; however, according to The Register, that’s no longer the case.

Sosa Somasegar’s (Senior VP of MS Developer Division) MSDN blog tells us that:

“we are going to extend the beta period by adding another interim checkpoint release, a Release Candidate with a broad “go live” license, which will be publicly available in the February 2010 timeframe.

Since the goal of the Release Candidate is to get more feedback from you, the team will need some time to react to that feedback before creating the final release build.  We are therefore moving the launch of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 back a few weeks.” (bold mine)

So there will be a VStudio 2010 RC in February 2010 and the final release of Visual Studio 2010 can be expected probably around the beginning of May 2010.

VStudio 2010 Editions & Licensing

VStudio 2010 will be here March 22, 2010 and with it come many advancements. However, this post isn’t to look at the feature differences but rather changes to the editions and licensing.

VStudio 2008 has got quite a few different versions on licensing:

  • VStudio Pro with MSDN Pro
  • VStudio Pro with MSDN Premium
  • VStudio Team Edition Test
  • VStudio Team Edition Architect
  • VStudio Team Edition Database
  • VStudio Team Edition Development
  • VStudio Team Suite

This can make it quite confusing for customers to choose the right editions for their teams…”Geoff does testing AND Architecting-which should I get?” or sometimes companies don’t have such defined roles, they just have “developers”. Getting the Suite ensures you get all the features but it’s expensive; this confusion has been known to put people off investing in 2008.


There are now just 3 editions:

  • VStudio Pro with MSDN
  • VStudio Prem with MSDN
  • VStudio Ultimate with MSDN

This straight away makes it quicker and easier for users to identify the edition best suited to particular user. This will definitely please a number of our customers :-)

Another change is that Team Foundation Server is now included with all 3 versions of VStudio, rather than being a separate additional licence adding more confusion (and cost) to the deal.

Production Software:

VStudio comes with MSDN which, as it’s name (MicroSoft Developers Network) suggests, is aimed at Developers…giving them access to most/all of Microsoft’s software for testing and development purposes (access level depends on version)…according to Microsoft MSDN gives access to 10,9 Terabytes :-)

However it’s a little known fact that VStudio 2008 w/MSDN also entitles you to production licences of a bunch of software. This benefit continues with a few tweaks and the 2010 editions (Pro & Ultimate only) now include:

  • Expression Studio 3
  • Office Pro Plus  2010
  • Visio Premium 2010
  • Project Pro 2010

That’s a pretty great addition :-) It seems that Communicator has been removed…


One of the biggest problems with VStudio 2008 was how oddly difficult it was to find easily comparable information about the different versions. Seeing which versions did what often involved trawling multiple pages/sites, clicking many a link and a general air of uncertainty…but that’s all gone with 2010 YAY! Microsoft have created a great webpage:



This is a brilliant, one stop shop to show end users (and partners) exactly what each version does, and doesn’t, do…something that will prove invaluable!

You can access the full version of the chart here:

Upgrades and renewals:

Another question I’ve been getting is around how the current 2008 versions will transition to 2010, so here’s what MS say:


So you can see that if you’ve currently got a Team Edition, you’ll get MSDN Ultimate thus giving you access to all features…bonus ;-)

The chart can be found here.

Ultimate Offer:

Microsoft’s website mentions an “Ultimate Offer” around subscription renewals but, to be honest, doesn’t make it particularly clear…at least not to me :-)


I think this means that if you’ve got VStudio with MSDN Pro you can renew it as MSDN Premium at no extra cost, but I’m going to get confirmation from MS ASAP.

Microsoft have certainly made an effort to simplify the world of Dev tools licensing which is definitely a good thing :-)

Update on The Ultimate Offer:

I’ve uncovered some more information on the “Ultimate Offer! (in fact, some came from a customer!) that helps make it a little clearer.

It’s effectively a free “Step Up” promo so:

“Eligible MSDN Premium subscription customers (at the time of launch) will gain access to one higher stock‐keeping unit (SKU) level”

The chart below shows the transition path:


So if you purchase any of the following editions:

• Visual Studio Professional 2008 with MSDN Premium
• Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition with MSDN Premium
• Visual Studio Team System 2008 Architecture Edition with MSDN Premium
• Visual Studio Team System 2008 Test Edition with MSDN Premium
• Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition with MSDN Premium

on or before March 22nd 2010, you will move up a level free of charge…nice :-)

There are a couple of questions I’ve thought of that I’m aiming to get answered and will post them up here once I do.

VStudio 2008 Edition Comparison

Visual Studio 2008 has got a few different versions and working out which one is right for you can sometimes be a bit tricky. Microsoft have made some very useful comparison charts but, as is often the case, they haven’t made them that easy to find!

The different editions are:

  • Architecture
  • Development
  • Database
  • Test
  • Team Suite (This includes all 4 version above)

A nice “at a glance” comparison can be found on the Microsoft site here.

A more in-depth version can be downloaded here.

Hat tip to Softie Rob Caron