I recently tried creating a free trial in Microsoft Azure and since I come from an AWS environment, I was not impressed. Launching instances in AWS is a smooth process. In Azure, it takes several minutes to launch an instance. When used to things happening almost instantaneously, it just leaves you wondering whether the instance is failing or just taking its time to launch.
The UI of the website is super bad. For new users, it is complicated, slow, and hard to find what you are looking for.
At one point, when I had to add a subscription, I actually thought I had lost the connection to the internet, and it had me clicking several times on the add subscription button, since it would just show a load-animation without explanation. The site became unresponsive at least for several seconds before finally updating. I encountered the same unresponsiveness when trying to delete things again.
SSH keys had to be generated using ssh-keygen, which you have to read about in the documentation. It takes maybe 5-10 mins, but AFAIK when using AWS you can simply generate the key directly on the AWS website. Amazon does not store your private-key, so you still need to be careful not to loose it. I keep at least a few backups.
Azure 12-month trial period
I tried using the 12-month free trial, but as a new user, I apparently failed to select the right combination of resources, so my instance was shot down without me knowing after 30 days. This means I now have to spend time moving the site back to AWS, since I have no intention trying to re-launch the instance with the right settings. IMO they should clearly show which resources that fit in the trial period so users do not have to read boring documentation just to launch a simple VM. Even after reading the documentation, it was still unclear to me what exactly to select, because it seems things are named differently in the UI.
I already have a VM running on AWS which I am paying for, so I decided to simply move things back and save the money.
The intention with this article is not to bring a comprehensive comparison or review of Microsoft Azure and AWS. This is simply my own personal experience after trying Azure with the free trial, and failing at setting it up correctly. Running a VM in the Cloud is quite expensive when you only make money on your websites with Adsense.
The Azure / AWS trial periods could both allow you to save some money on hosting, as well as learn to use new platforms. Currently, I prefer to stick with Amazon, since that is what I am already paying for.
I do not know why the trial in Azure is so difficult to setup. When I first started using AWS I had no idea about anything, yet it was very easy for me to choose the right EC2 instance for the trial period, basically because it said which instance to choose right at the launch screen. If someone with past cloud experience can not easily figure this out on Azure, maybe Microsoft is not doing a very god job at informing new users.