The velocity of release for Microsoft development and infrastructure products can be at times overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to keep up. Microsoft has done something to help reduce the time to get the new offerings up and running. On Windows Azure they provide several pre-configured images to allow you to get started using the new offerings in minutes.
If you have a Windows Azure subscription you can start playing with the below Previews or Evaluation versions.
- Windows Server 2012 R2 (Preview)
- SQL Server 2014 CTP1 (Evaluation)
- Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate (Preview)
- SharePoint 2013 (Trial)
Even if you’re not looking to use one of the above previews there is now other pre-configured options you can setup to get familiar with.
- Windows Server 2008 R2 & 2012 Datacenter
- SQL Server 2008 R2 & 2012
- BizTalk 2013
Also if you interested in Linux there is a few pre-configured options as well.
- openSUSE 12.3
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 (SP2, SP3)
- Ubuntu Server (12.04 LTS, 12.10, 13.02)
- OpenLogic CentOS 6.3
If none of the above pre-configured option fit your needs you can choose one of the server options and install the products you want to try. Here is a link to get the list of supported Microsoft server products.
By the way if you need a Windows Azure subscription here is the link for a free trial.