Amazon takes Microsoft to the cloud

Amazon has announced its own cloud service will soon be supporting Microsoft's Windows Server operating system and SQL Server database.

This would mean users of Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) would be able to use those products rather than the Unix-based systems currently available.

The announcement comes as Microsoft detailed its own move to the cloud, with a related operating system (OS) due to be unveiled later this month.

Amazon said using Microsoft on EC2 would be good for ASP.Net websites, high performance computing clusters, and other Windows-friendly applications.

Indeed, the firm said it is making the move because of customer demand especially by entertainment companies looking to use Windows Media. In a blog post, chief technology officer Werner Vogels said: "In past weeks I met with a number of folks from the entertainment industry and often their first question was: when can we run on Windows?"

He added: "In addition, several customers would like to maintain a global single Windows-based desktop environment using Microsoft Remote Desktop, and Amazon EC2 is a scalable and dependable platform on which to do so."

The EC2 with Windows Server is currently in private beta testing, but Amazon said it would be available by the end of the year.

While full pricing details of the Microsoft-friendly service will be released later this fall, Amazon said: "Customers will only pay for as much or little as they actually use; of course, the actual price will be higher than Linux-based instances, due to the cost of Windows licenses."