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Microsoft Azure to arrive in January

But Microsoft won't be charging for its cloud computing service until February in order to test its systems.

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Microsoft has revealed that Azure will be launched on 1 January, though the company won't start charging customers until February.

Azure is Microsoft's cloud computing service, and will allow everybody from home users to businesses to write and host applications on the software giant's data centres.

Speaking at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, the company's chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, claimed that the software's biggest advantage was scalability.

"For consumers, the best result of cloud computing is that they don't notice it," said Ozzie.

"Companies that are not in IT - like retailers and manufacturing companies - still deal with their customers on the web. Azure allows us to do the hard work of figuring out how to build those really high-scale systems that deal with all the consumers, and it lets businesses focus on what they are good at."

"What this cloud computing allows IT departments to do, is to just buy computing as you need it. If you have an application that you'd like to run and just try it a little, you only end up paying a little, and if your demand gets greater and greater, then we just turn up the dial and we give you more and more," he added.

Despite planning the launch for January, Microsoft says it will take another month for the company to test its billing systems - which is based on compute time and storage.

Click here to find out if security concerns will kill cloud computing.

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