Setting up a Windows Azure Free Trial Step 3: Mobile Number Verification, Page 2
Step 3: Mobile Number Verification
Now that you have associated a Windows Live ID with your trial account you should be seeing the Create Account dialog (Figure 6). Here you'll be supplying a mobile phone number as part of the verification process. Confirm the country selection at bottom, and click the right-arrow at bottom right.
On the second screen of the Create Account dialog (Figure 7), enter your mobile phone number. This is going to be used to send you a text message for verification that you'll need to respond to. After entering your mobile number and confirming it is correct, click the Send text message button.
Figure 7: Create Account Dialog (2 of 3) – Entering Mobile Phone Number
You'll soon receive a message on your mobile phone that says, Please use the code XXXXXX to verify your Windows Azure account. Enter the code on the dialog (Figure 8) and click Verify code.
Figure 8: Create Account Dialog (2 of 3) – Entering Verification Code
Once your code is verified, click the right-arrow at bottom right to complete the dialog.
Step 4: Credit Card Verification
After a few moments you'll be prompted to enter billing address and credit card information (Figure 9). You absolutely won't be charged during the trial period unless you authorize it, and you are not obligated to proceed past the trial period. Once you enter the requested information, review the subscription agreement and rate plan and check the checkbox acknowledging your agreement to the terms. Then click Next to proceed.
Figure 9: Billing and Account Information Dialog
Congratulations, your Windows Azure free trial is now ready to be used!
Using Your Windows Azure Free Trial
Now that your Windows Azure free trial account has been set up you'll want to put it to good use. Let's acquaint you with some of the key activities and resources you'll need to know about. Chief among these are gearing up for Windows Azure development, managing your account, and managing projects.
Getting Set up for Windows Azure Development
To develop Windows Azure solution you'll need to outfit your local development machine with the appropriate tools and software development kit. Microsoft encourages developers of all stripes to use Windows Azure and supports the major languages and developer tools well, so whether you like working with C# in Visual Studio or PHP in Eclipse you'll find it straightforward to work in your preferred way.
To download the appropriate development tools, go to http://azure.com and click the develop link. On the resulting page you can select your preferred language or platform (Figure 10).
Figure 10: Developer Center on Azure.com
Once you indicate your preferred way to develop, you'll be taken to a platform-specific developer center such as the .NET Developer Center shown in Figure 11.
Figure 11: .NET Developer Center on Azure.com
From here you can download the tools you need and will find plenty of tutorials and reference information to get you underway. I also recommend you download the Windows Azure Training Kit and go through the hands-on labs that interest you.
Note: For step-by-step instructions on how to create your first Windows Azure application, check out our hands-on tutorial, Creating a Windows Azure Application: A Step-by-Step Guide .
Managing Your Projects
You'll also need to know how to manage your Windows Azure projects—that is, the deployments, storage accounts, databases, and namespaces for services you use. That is done in a separate management portal, which you can get to by clicking the manage link that appears at the top right of Azure.com when you are signed in (Figure 12). To go to the management portal directly, visit http://windows.azure.com.
Figure 12: Azure.com link to Windows Azure Management Portal
Covering how to use the management portal is beyond the scope of this article; however, the tutorials on the developer center will get you going and now you know where to find it.
Get Plugged in to Community
On the support area of Azure.com you'll find links to online forums. On the community area of Azure.com you'll find posts from the Windows Azure blog. Developers should take advantage of the strong community support Windows Azure enjoys.
Microsoft Platform Ready
Microsoft provides many programs for developers, and one of the notable ones is Microsoft Platform Ready (MPR). MPR provides helpful resources to plan, build, test, and take your solution to market and they are all free. This includes some neat online testing tools and the ability to submit applications to the Windows Azure Marketplace. You'll also find a jumping off point for tools, valuable Windows Azure related blogs, email, chat, and phone help options.
If you are a Microsoft Partner Network member, then you can also find information for earning a “Powered by Windows Azure” logo on the MPR site.
Promoting Your Azure Applications
If you are building a public application on Windows Azure, then you are likely going to want to promote it. If promotional help is needed, then once again, Microsoft Platform Ready can help. The MPR team can help you with promotion via the Windows Azure Marketplace.
Managing your Free Trial Account
As time goes by you'll no doubt be curious about what your usage of the trial account has been and what that might have cost you if you were on a standard month-to-month subscription. You can easily track your activity on Azure.com.
Whenever you're on Azure.com and have signed in, you can get to account activity by clicking the account link at the top of the page. This will display a summary of your subscription(s) including your free trial (Figure 13). You can see at a glance what your costs are. There's also a reminder of how many days remain in your free trial.
Figure 13: Subscription List on Azure.com showing 3-Month Free Trial
Select the 3-Month Free Trial subscription to view details and you'll be taken to an account overview (Figure 14). Initially of course you won't have any usage to report.
Figure 14: 3-Month Trial Subscription Overview (Top) on Azure.com
The overview page shows consumption that is included in your subscription (i.e. at no charge). If you scroll further down the page you'll see there is also an area that shows pay-as-you-go consumption (Figure 15). Unless you intentionally remove the $0.00 spending cap that is the default on a 3-Month Trial Subscription, there's no worry of seeing any charges here.
Figure 15: 3-Month Trial Subscription Overview (Bottom) on Azure.com
Upgrading or Canceling a Trial Subscription
If during or at the end of the trial period you would like to upgrade your trial subscription to a standard month-to-month subscription, go to the subscription overview page on Azure.com (Figure 13) and click on the Would you like to upgrade now? link that appears below on your list of Windows Azure subscriptions. If you're sure you want to proceed, select the yes, upgrade my subscription option in the subscription upgrade dialog (Figure 16) and click the check button. This will lift the spending cap. If you're still within the trial period, you'll still get the allowed free consumption for the remainder of the trial and will only be billed for overage. Once the trial period ends you'll be charged for all consumption.
Figure 16: Subscription Upgrade dialog
Canceling Your Subscription
To cancel your Windows Azure subscription, go to the subscription overview page for your trial account (Figure 13) and click the Cancel Subscription link in the list of tasks at right. Confirm the cancellation and that's all there is to it.
Call to Action
Given its potential benefits, you owe it to yourself to investigate cloud computing. Microsoft has made this simple and risk-free with the Windows Azure 3-Month Free Trial. Taking advantage of the free trial will give you a hands-on experience with Microsoft cloud computing that will provide insights and clarity into where the cloud can take you and your organization.
Additionally, once you've set up your account, you'll have a variety of resources that you can tap into in order to get the most out of it. This includes the MPR program mentioned earlier, as well as the articles, tutorials, and other blogs.
This article was sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, but written independently by the author
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