This FAQ aims to provide answers to many of the recurring questions that developers ask on the Windows Azure MSDN forums. It will also act as a great resource for those who are learning Windows Azure and have questions about how to get started with Azure development.

As the Windows Azure technologies evolve rapidly, this article will be updated on a regular basis to keep pace with this evolution. There is a chance that some of the content may be out of date, feel free to make updates if this is the case.

Windows Azure Accounts

What kinds of accounts are available for Windows Azure?

Windows Azure Trial Accounts

What is a trial account?

A Windows Azure trial account allows you to use a specified number of resources for a period of 90 days. There are no charges for the account, but you will need to register with a credit card.

You can sign up for a trial account here.

What resources are available when using a trail account?

The current resources available for a trial account are as follows:

  • compute / 750 small compute hours per month
  • web sites / 10 web sites
  • mobile services / 10 mobile services
  • relational database / 1 SQL database
  • storage / 35GB with 50,000,000 storage transactions
  • bandwidth / unlimited inbound & 20GB per month outbound

Will I get billed for using a trial account?

Any Windows Azure Trial and MSDN accounts created after 12th December 2011 have a $0 spending limit set by default. This means that you will not incur any changes for using the account, unless you disable the $0 spending limit.

Any Windows Azure Trial and MSDN accounts created before 12th December 2011 will not have the $0 spending limit, and will therefore incur changes if the monthly allocations are exceeded.

What happens if I use my allocated monthly resources?

When the allocated resources are consumed within a calendar month the services will be disabled until the end of that month. When the next months starts the services will be enabled again.

What happens if I remove the $0 spending limit?

Once you remove the $0 spending limit, you start getting charged for consuming resources beyond monthly allocations. You will not be able to re-apply the $0 limit once it has been removed.

Can I convert my Trail account to a Pay-As-You-Go Account?

Yes. Before the 3 Month Trial ends, you have an option to remove the spending limit. If you remove the spending limit, your subscription will move into Pay-As-You-Go after the trial period.

Why do I have to register a credit card for a trial account?

In order to prevent a user from creating a number of trial accounts using different Windows Live IDs a credit card is required when registering for a trial account. No charges will be made on the credit card unless the $0 spending cap is removed.

I’ve heard stories of customers receiving unexpected bills when using trial and MSDN accounts, why is this?

The zero-billing option on trial and MSDN accounts was introduced in December 2011. Before this, any usage of Azure resources above the free quotas for trial and MSDN accounts would be billed. In some cases this has resulted in Azure users receiving unexpected bills for Windows Azure usage. There are a number of factors that can lead to this.

  • Deployments with roles in the stopped state
    When applications using web roles, worker roles and VM roles are deployed to Windows Azure, but are in the stopped state, the role instances incur charges.
  • Excessive storage transactions created by Windows Azure Diagnostics
    Use of Windows Azure Diagnostics can result in a large number of transactions being made against the Windows Azure Storage Services. In some chases this has lead to unexpected billing.

In most cases, unexpected billing is due to users not fully understanding the intricacies of the Windows Azure pricing and billing model. As with any pay-as-you-go service, such as a mobile phone, it is important to understand the billing model if your account is not set with a $0 billing limit.

Windows Azure Pricing & Billing

What is the current Windows Azure pricing?

The current Windows Azure pricing details are available here. The services and pricing model can be modified and is subject to changes, ensure that you are familiar with the charges that will affect your application.

Can I limit the billing of my Azure account to a maximum monthly charge?

No. If you are using a Pay-As-You-Go account or an account with the $0 spending limit disabled you will be charged for all the resources that your application consumes. A limited spending limit is a commonly requested feature, and may become available in the future.

Can I pay for Windows Azure by invoice instead of credit card?

In most cases yes. You will have to contact support and ask for our account to be payable by invoice. Details of the procedure can be found here.