I've finally decided to play a little with SQL Azure. I have to say, my first few minutes have been less than fantastic. When I go to http://sql.azure.com/ this is what I see:
It seems that I don't have an invitation code, so I guess I'll sign up for the mailing list down at the bottom, and try to get one. Only problem is, when the link tries to get onto Connect, the Windows Live service is down (and yes, I've tried the usual clear cookies and restart trick, to no avail):
I get on another machine (also trying a different browser), and I can get in to the Live ID service, but the alleged "mailing list" has either been moved or removed, or I am not deemed adequate to see it:
This kind of seems like Fight Club to me. I can't get into the club unless I'm already in the club. And nobody can tell me how to get into the club so that I can get into the club. I can go on ad nauseum, but the point is pretty clear: you're not in unless you're already in.
Then I remember that I have an MSDN subscription, and that we get some free basic cloud services with that. (How this helps folks without an MSDN subscription try SQL Azure, I'm not sure.) But you have to agree to potential charges at their rate plan, should you forget about your running apps beyond the trial period:
I am currently sitting here, contemplating whether to check the box and hit Next, recalling the horror stories of other MSDN subscribers who signed up, forgot about it, and then started getting astronomical bills because of the space their databases were occupying.
So I haven't even actually started using the service yet, and I'm already extremely frustrated and a little afraid. This is not a good experience so far, Microsoft.