On Tuesday, Microsoft finally announced its pricing structure for Windows Azure, the company's upcoming cloud-computing platform. In addition, Microsoft said that those interested in using the various Azure services can do so for free until the official launch in November.

"With the Windows Azure platform, we're focused on delivering the best services platform to create compelling web applications and services, which enables our customers and partners to quickly develop and deploy compelling solutions," Microsoft President Bob Muglia said. "What's unique about the Windows Azure platform is that Microsoft manages the complexity, which allows partners to focus on what matters most for their business: building innovative services solutions and driving new revenue."

Microsoft will offer Azure services three different ways: a consumption (pay as you go) model, a subscription model for resellers, and a volume-licensing model for enterprises. The so-called consumption model appears to be priced comparably with the current leader in this market, Amazon.com, and offers a variety of online services, including hosted Windows and Linux services.

On the consumption plan, Microsoft will charge 12 cents per hour for compute infrastructure services, 15 cents per gigabyte for storage, and 10 cents per 10,000 storage transactions. Users of Microsoft's SQL Azure cloud-based database will incur monthly charges of $9.99 for the Web Edition, which supports up to 1GB databases, and $99.99 for the Business Edition, which allows up to 10GB databases. The web developer-oriented .NET Services will cost 15 cents per 100,000 message operations. There are additional bandwidth charges across the three services as well: 10 cents per gigabyte for incoming data and 15 cents per gigabyte for outgoing data.