Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) on Monday launched its Windows Azure cloud computing platform as a paid service, but smaller companies are unlikely to be among its first customers. That's because Azure doesn't currently include a pricing option that makes sense for smaller applications.
It's hardly a new issue: Developers have been talking about this since last July when Microsoft revealed its pricing model for Azure. But with Microsoft now going up against established cloud computing competitors such as Google, Salesforce.com and Amazon, it could impede Microsoft's progress in the market.
With Azure, Microsoft charges 12 cents an hour for 'compute time,' which means that even a small Azure instance costs around $86.40 per month, plus storage and bandwidth charges. According to Roger Jennings, an independent .Net developer and principal consultant of OakLeaf Systems, Oakland, Calif., this locks out very small, low traffic Web sites that typically use much cheaper shared hosting options.
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