Microsoft links Windows 8 apps to Azure

Windows Azure Mobile Services connects Windows 8-based client and mobile apps to scalable cloud; will include Android and iOS

Microsoft is adding mobile connectivity between Windows applications and the Windows Azure cloud platform with the introduction this week of Windows Azure Mobile Services.

The technology will enable users to connect client and mobile applications based on Windows 8 to a scalable cloud back end, said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president in the Microsoft Server and Tools Business, in a blog post. "It allows you to easily store structured data in the cloud that can span both devices and users, integrate it with user authentication, and send out updates to clients via push notifications." Windows 8 is due to ship on October 26.

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Plans call for Windows Azure Mobile Services to soon add support for Windows Phone, Apple iOS, and Google Android devices. Users can get started by signing up for a 90-day free trial of Windows Azure, whereupon they enable their account to support the Mobile Services preview.

"Once you have the mobile services preview enabled, log into the Windows Azure Portal, click the 'New' button, and choose the new 'Mobile Services' icon to create your first mobile back end," Guthrie said. Once the back end is created, users will see a quick-start page with instructions on connecting the mobile service to an existing or new Windows 8 client application. Azure users can as many as 10 mobile services in a free, multitenant hosting environment.

"When you create a Windows Azure Mobile Service, we automatically associate it with a SQL database inside Windows Azure. The Windows Azure Mobile Service backend then provides built-in support for enabling remote apps to securely store and retrieve data from it (using secure REST end-points utilizing a JSON-based ODATA format) -- without you having to write or deploy any custom server code. Built-in management support is provided within the Windows Azure portal for creating new tables, browsing data, setting indexes, and controlling access permissions," Guthrie said.

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