Also new - though initially only as a limited preview - is an Apache Hadoop based service. Hadoop is a framework for the distributed processing of large data sets, and is used by many well-known companies including Adobe, eBay, Facebook, IBM, LinkedIn, Twitter and Yahoo.
Microsoft officials also noted a number of usability and functional enhancements to Azure's Java capabilities.
The Azure libraries for .NET, Java and Node are available under the Apache 2 open source licence.
Data transfer prices have been reduced from $US0.15 to $US0.12 per gigabyte in the US and Europe, and from $US0.20 to $US0.19 in Asia Pacific. Service Bus usage will be billed on the basis of relay hours and message operations from April 1, 2012, not connections.
Also new on the pricing front are the introduction of "a truly free 90-day trial period" with spending caps to prevent over-quota charges.
Other changes include SQL Azure Federations to simplify adding or removing database nodes in response to fluctuating demand, and a new-look management portal with a Metro-style user interface.