Summary:

Microsoft could use Web Matrix 2.0 tool — now in beta — to entice new-age web developers to Azure, its cloud-computing Platform-as-a-Service. While the Azure PaaS has a potentially huge built-in audience of .Net programmers, it lacks cachet among the “cool kid,” next-gen web developers.

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Microsoft hopes to use the company’s Web Matrix 2.0 tool–now in beta–to lure new-age web developers to Azure, its cloud-computing Platform-as-a-Service.

While the Azure PaaS has a potentially huge built-in audience of .Net programmers, it lacks cachet among the “cool kid,” next-gen web developers. Those developers tend to gravitate towards Linux and Perl, Ruby, Python or Java languages.

Microsoft has talked a tiny bit about Web Matrix 2.0 on various company blogs, but nowhere makes any mention about Azure as a potential target site for their applications.

One Microsoft blogger described Web Matrix 2.0 as:

“…an all-in-one tool you can use to download, install and tweak and publish a website based on an open source app like WordPress, Umbraco, Drupal, … OR program your own site with an easy-to-use Razor syntax and ASP.NET Web Pages.”

But the tool could serve a vital purpose. Microsoft has spent years and billions of dollars building out Azure infrastructure and services, which went live in February 2010. But the effort lacks stature among the web and cloud cognoscenti who don’t necessarily see Azure’s Windows heritage as a good thing.

For many of those highly technical developers, Azure’s PaaS stack is overkill; they prefer to deploy on Amazon Web Services  IaaS instead. And those who really want to avail themselves of a PaaS would be more likely to check out VMware’s Cloud Foundry or Salesforce.com’s Heroku.

Our own Stacey Higginbotham wrote that CloudFountry “will offer developers tools to build out applications on public clouds, private clouds and anyplace else, whether the underlying server runs VMware or not.”

That’s an attractive proposition for developers who want the widest possible addressable market. Developers can use non-Microsoft languages to write for Azure, but many in the non-.Net camp don’t see the appeal of writing applications that will run in a Microsoft-only environment.

“What Azure needs is a way for developers to use it without caring about it being Azure. [The] ideal state would be a dude writing an app in PHP or Java or Ruby and being able to run it on Azure or Heroku or Google App Engine without having to care,” said Carl Brooks, infrastructure analyst with Tier 1 Research, a division of The 451 Group.

Disclosure: Automattic, the maker of WordPress.com, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user  Carlos Gutiérrez G.

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