The new changes are designed to make working with Azure simpler, more affordable and more open, according to Microsoft.
In particular, the new Windows Azure SDK for Node.js makes Azure a better environment for developers to build and deploy highly-scalable Node applications, with hosting, storage and service bus support for the open source platform.
Microsoft also said it is delivering a limited preview of an Apache Hadoop-based service for Windows, as promised at its PASS summit in October.
This will enable customers to take advantage of advanced analytics for big data, while the new support means that apps can be deployed in hours instead of days.
Meanwhile, the maximum size for SQL Azure databases has been tripled to 150GB, with new price caps allowing customers with 50GB databases or larger to continue to grow without incurring additional costs, Microsoft claimed.
Also new is SQL Azure Federation, aimed at making it easier for databases to scale-out using a new sharding pattern that allows data to be partitioned as required, providing simplified multi-tenancy operation for cloud applications.
On the management side, Microsoft has refreshed its SQL Azure Management Portal with a new Metro-style user interface and capabilities to monitor databases more easily.
A new sign-up process has also been introduced offering a free 90-day trial, while customers can now view real-time use and billing details directly from the Windows Azure Management Portal.
Finally, Microsoft said that data transfer prices in North America and Europe have been reduced by 25 per cent, and Service Bus use is now free until the end of March 2012.
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