Netcraft today reported that Microsoft has passed Amazon to become the largest Windows hosting company. The report was measured by the number of web-facing Windows computers. It reported that Microsoft now has 23,400 web-facing Windows computers against Amazon’s 22,600. Netcraft cited Windows Azure as the main reason behind this growth. They also speculated that Windows Azure’s new Web Sites service could also be the reason.
Microsoft’s growth is predominantly a result of the growth of Windows Azure: Azure now accounts for close to 90% of all web-facing computers at Microsoft. Windows Azure has grown by almost 50% since May 2013, during the February 2014 Web Server survey Netcraft found 27,000 web-facing computers (both Windows and Linux) using the cloud computing platform. Many of Microsoft’s own services are powered by Windows Azure including Office 365, Xbox Live, Skype, and OneDrive.
Windows Azure Web Sites service — available to the general public since June 2013 — may be the driving force behind Azure’s growth. This Platform as a Service allows existing applications written in ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, Node.js, or Python to be deployed on an automatically scaling platform without managing individual computers. Microsoft also provides pre-configured software packages, such as WordPress, which can be used immediately with the Web Site service.
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