An easy way to get $250

Does your company own a piece of web-based software? A product or utility written in .NET (or php, ruby, python, or java)? Simply check a box to verify that it works on Windows Azure, and Microsoft will send you a check for $250. Full details and terms here (notably, this offer is for US companies only and ends June 17), but I’ll summarize below. If you Know your app is already compatible with Windows Azure, this should take you less than 10 minutes.

Profile your app in Microsoft Platform Ready

Microsoft Platform Ready is a key resource for partners to get step-by-step guidance and support on our platform technologies. It also helps you test applications and earn Microsoft partner competencies.

If you haven’t signed up for MPR yet, go to www.microsoftplatformready.com, sign in with your Live ID, then profile yourself and your company:

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Be sure to use a valid phone number and zip code – that’s how we determine which evangelists (like me) work with you.

Next, profile your application. Check that it supports the Windows Azure Platform:

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If you have more than one app, please profile all of them (hey, it’s how I’m measured!), but only the first app you profile qualifies for the $250 (and you must be based in the US and verify compatibility between April 15 and June 17, as the terms state).

For each app that you profile, go to Test | Verify and check the box to verify that the app is compatible:

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Finally, take a screenshot (Alt-PrtSc) of the following page after you verify compatibility and email it ALONG WITH YOUR PHYSICAL MAILING ADDRESS to appplatformready@microsoft.com, preferably using THIS TEMPLATE, before 6/21/2011 noon PDT (if you think of it, cc Patrick.Foley@microsoft.com so I know that you read about the offer here).

That’s it!

Again, only the first app qualifies for $250, but please verify all your apps that are compatible with Windows Azure.

More about Microsoft Platform Ready

Even without this incentive and even if your apps aren’t compatible yet, you should sign up for MPR (yes, of course we shorten it) and profile your apps anyway. Doing so gives you access to free email and phone technical support. If you want to go beyond self-verifying your applications, you can download the testing tool for Windows Azure, which will help you identify possible problems in your code. When your app is released and you have submitted the results of using the test tool, then you can qualify for the “Powered by Windows Azure” logo and earn points toward Microsoft Partner Network competencies. Similar benefits are available for our other platform technologies, including Windows Phone 7, Windows 7, SharePoint 2010, SQL Server, Windows Server 2008 R2, and more.

There is another, more subtle reason for profiling your apps in MPR – it makes you visible to Microsoft. There are thousands of ISVs in my part of the world alone (I work with software companies in the middle of the US). When we come out with new products or new features or marketing incentives of interest to ISVs, we use MPR to know who to connect to. If we don’t know you are working on Windows Azure, for example, we don’t know to reach out to you to offer help, ask for feedback, and to tell you about this easy way to earn $250.

How to try out Windows Azure for free

If you haven’t tried out Windows Azure yet, you should … the easiest way to do so is to go to www.windowsazurepass.com and use promo code PFOLEY. This will give you thirty days to experiment – no credit card required. If you are thrilled with what you find and want to keep going, you can even migrate that to a paying account (note that you get free Azure via MSDN – and you can get free access to MSDN via BizSpark).

There are a LOT of tutorials on developing for Windows Azure – start here if you are brand new (I’m a fan of the Training Kit in particular). For languages other than .NET, you’ll have to do a bit more upfront work to set things up (read the blogs of Steve Marx and Wade Wegner), but Windows Azure is still a great fit.

$250 is $250 …

I’ll be writing a lot more about moving applications to Windows Azure in the coming months, but if your app is currently compatible with Windows Azure, you might as well get that 250 bucks now. In fact, the offer is limited to the first 250 people who submit, so do it NOW! Follow the simple instructions above and email me at Patrick.Foley@microsoft.com if you have any issues.

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