Windows Azure Training Series: Setting up a Development Environment for Free

This is the second in a series of articles on getting started with Windows Azure.  To use Windows Azure, you’ll want to set up Microsoft Visual Studio, and install the Windows Azure tools and SDK. If you don’t have Visual Studio, you may be thinking this will be expensive. Actually, it’s free! This article will walk you through it step-by-step.

Installing Visual Web Developer Express Edition

Windows Azure allows you to host massively scalable, zero-administration Web applications in the cloud, without buying any hardware. First, you need to create the Web application though, and for that you need a development tool. Microsoft offers a free version of Visual Studio that is perfect for this task. Go to this link,, to install it. (If you already have Visual Studio, you can skip this step and go right to installing Microsoft Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio, see below.)

Click on the “Get tools and SDK” button, and you will be taken to the Windows Azure Developer Services page shown below. Scroll down a bit and click on the Download Visual Web Developer 2010 Express link.

Read the page shown below, and click on the “Install” button.

The Microsoft Web Platform Installer will start, as shown below. At the top, click on “Products”. Then, make sure Visual Web Developer 2010 Express is added. You may also want to install other products like SQL Server Express, IIS and so on. Click the “Install” button and run through the wizard. The installer should detect any dependencies your system requires. A reboot may also be required during the setup process.

Installing the Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio

After you have Visual Studio installed, go back to the Windows Azure Developer Services page, but this time click on the “Get tools and SDK” button, as shown below. You will be prompted to download and run an installation program. Do so, and the Windows Azure tools will be installed on your machine and the Windows Azure templates will be added to Visual Studio.

At this point, you should be able to create an Azure application. Start Visual Web Developer 2010 Express (or Visual Studio if you have it). Select the “File | New Project” menu. The New Project dialog will start as shown below. Under Installed Templates, expand the tree for your preferred language (Visual Basic or Visual C#). Select the Cloud branch. If you see the Windows Azure Project template, then it must have worked.

In another post, I’ll walk you through creating your first project.

You will also need to setup an account and subscription to use Windows Azure. See my earlier post, Windows Azure Training Series – Understanding Subscriptions and Users.

To learn more about Windows Azure, come to Learning Tree course 2602, Windows Azure Platform Introduction: Programming Cloud-Based Applications.

Doug Rehnstrom

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