Monday, January 16, 2012

Windows Server Added to AWS Free Tier

aws-logo150x150.pngAmazon has offered a free tier to get customers hooked on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for some time, but customers were limited to the Linux Micro Instance. This week, Amazon is throwing in a free usage tier for Windows as well, so that developers can test out AWS with Windows Server. As an added bonus, Amazon has boosted the Elastic Block Storage (EBS) to 30GB and doubled the I/O requests to 2 million.

Specifically, if you want to make use of the free tier you can use one of three Windows AMIs:


  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Base 32-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Base 64-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 with SQL Server Express and IIS 64-bit

The free tier is available for up to one year, for the micro instances only. That's 613 MB of RAM with 5GB of Amazon S3 storage and 20,000 get requests/2,000 puts.


Once the free trial is over, Windows instances start at $0.03 per hour for the Micro instance. According to Jeff Barr, you can choose the Windows free tier in any AWS region with the exception of GovCloud. Not sure if you're eligible for the free usage tier? Amazon has a guide for that in its getting started guide for AWS.

Who's Paying?

Since Windows Server 2008 requires licensing fees, I wonder where the price break is coming from here. Is Amazon shouldering the bill to lure more folks to AWS, or is Microsoft working a deal with Amazon to lure more cloud developers to Windows Server? My guess is that it's Amazon. Microsoft has its own cloud service to promote, and already provides a 3 month free trial for Azure.

What's interesting is that this leaves SUSE and Red Hat out of the free tier altogether. You can run SUSE Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) on AWS, but they aren't available in the free tier. It's just Windows and Amazon's home-brewed Linux AMIs.

Is the free tier enough to lure folks over to AWS to run Windows Server in the cloud? Any AWS paying customers that started on the free tier?


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