I had heard that if you have an MSDN subscription that you have a Windows Azure account which can be activated. (Thank you to John Joyner who pointed me the right direction to start on this item). If you have an MSDN subscription you can access it and then activate your Windows Azure benefits. Here’s the steps that I went through – (start to finish this took less than an hour to get my account activated, first virtual online and document this via this blog post):

Log into your MSDN account (https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/subscriptions/manage/hh442900), and go to the “My Account” section shown below:


Choose the option to Activate Windows Azure. The screen indicates that there is no charge on this account unless you remove the default spending limit.


This membership provide a small compute (1 core, 1.75 GB of memory) for 375 hours or about half of a month per month of the subscription. This is the only issue I’m seeing with this from an MSDN perspective – 375 small compute hours is about half (24 hours per day x 30 days in a month = 720 hours per month) of the time required to run a small compute system for the month and shutting down the virtual does NOT appear to stop the compute hour clock from running so that this virtual would only be available for the first half of a month.

This did require a credit card to continue with the registration process. Once that was done the next step is to sign in to the Windows Azure Management Portal.

To be able to create virtual machines you need to sign up for the preview program by choosing the New button from the portal.


Then choosing computer, and virtual machine.



And choose your MSDN subscription from the dropdown list. Log into the portal and verify that your account is still set to not charge beyond the MSDN subscription usage: (https://manage.windowsazure.com/)


Return to the portal and now you can create a virtual machine.

The following were steps that were provided to me by a colleague at Microsoft:  (Thank you Cal!)

<This is the start of documentation I received from Microsoft>

2. On the command bar, click New.


3. Click Virtual Machines, and then click Quick Create.


The Create a New Virtual Machine dialog box appears.


4. Enter the following information for the new virtual machine:

o DNS Name – the name that is used for both the virtual machine that is created and the cloud service that contains the virtual machine.

o Image – the platform image that is used to create the virtual machine. If you want to create a virtual machine running the Linux operating system, you must use the From Gallery method to create the machine.

o Account Password – enter and confirm a password for the Administrator account. You use this account to manage the virtual machine.

o Location – the region that contains the virtual machine.

5. Click the check mark to create the virtual machine.

Note: A storage account is created to contain this virtual machine. Only one storage account exists for holding these virtual machines, if it exists, it is used to for additional machines.

You will see the new virtual machine listed in on the Virtual Machines page.


</End documentation I received from Microsoft>

Once this virtual request is created, it provisions the system and when that process is complete the server can be connected to using the bottom on the bottom of the screen.

image  This actually opens an RDP based on the name that was provided when provisioning the virtual, which I must admit – that’s when this became real – when I could remote desktop into this I was truly impressed with what this is an how it works! A screenshot of the connection to my new Azure based Windows Server 2012 is shown below!


Usage stats are even available for the virtual via the website such as the one below:

Summary: I’m extremely impressed with what is available now as Azure now is providing the ability to quickly spin up and remotely access virtual servers. If you have an MSDN subscription this is definitely something to try out. If you don’t have MSDN, there is a free 90 day trial version which is available if you go to http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/.