In a moved aimed at luring more developers to its cloud platform, Microsoft is offering the chance to test out Windows Azure with no up-front investment.

Developers that opt to give Azure a whirl can choose either 750 hours of use on an Extra Small Compute Instance (the equivalent of a 1GHz processor with 768MB of working memory) or 25 hours on a Small Compute Instance (1.6GHz processor with 1.75GB of working memory). Participants will also get 90 days usage and 1GB of storage on a Web Edition SQL Azure database. The deal is available until the end of June.

A post on GigaOm compares Microsoft’s approach to other cloud platform operators:

“The big picture is that just like many software vendors offer free, but limited, versions of their software to bring in potential paying customers, so, too, are cloud providers taking this tact. Amazon Web Services has received a fair amount of praise lately for its free usage tier, and Google App Engine has had free resource quotas since its inception. Cloud computing might be infinitely more convenient for application developers than procuring resources from IT departments or dealing with traditional web hosts, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take some convincing to get them to try it out.”

Indeed, getting application developers—and, for that matter, IT pros—to the cloud is often more than half the battle. Once there, it’s up to these software developers and cloud service providers alike to convince users that their platforms and offerings have the features, functionality and security requirements to get them to stick around.