Azure free service tier

This article is a compilation of Azure free service tier services and other Microsoft sponsored offers and free benefits to developers, NGOs, government organizations and startups.

Azure free service tier

There is a handful of services in Azure which are provided free for either the first 12 months or forever. Free services may come with certain limitations. The following articles discuss the available Azure free service tier services in detail and answer any questions related to the usage terms and limitations of these services.

Free services for the first 12 months

When you create your Azure free account, you start getting monthly free amounts of certain types of services. If you move to pay-as-you-go pricing within 30 days or after you’ve used your credit, you’ll continue to receive monthly free amounts of popular services until 12 months after you created your account. After that, if you’re using any of these services, they’ll continue to run and you’ll be billed for them at pay-as-you-go rates.

The following list includes the Azure free services which are free for the first 12 months upon sign up for an Azure subscription.

  • Archive Storage
  • Azure AI Anomaly Detector
  • Azure AI Content Safety
  • Azure AI Customer Vision
  • Azure AI Document Intelligence
  • Azure AI Personalizer
  • Azure AI Translator
  • Azure Cosmos DB
  • Azure Database for MySQL
  • Azure Database for PostgreSQL
  • Azure Files
  • Azure SQL Managed Instance
  • Bandwidth (Data Transfer)
  • Blob Storage
  • Computer Vision
  • Container Registry
  • Face
  • Key Vault
  • Language Understanding (LUIS)
  • Load Balancer
  • Managed Disks
  • Media Services, Encoding feature
  • Media Services, Live and on-demand streaming
  • Service Bus
  • Virtual Machines—Linux
  • Virtual Machines—Windows
  • VPN Gateway

Noteworthy is the free tier of the SQL managed instance service: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-sql/managed-instance/free-offer?view=azuresql#monthly-free-limits.

Always free services

You start getting monthly free amounts of more than 55 other services when you create your Azure free account. If you move to pay-as-you-go pricing after 30 days or after you use your credit, you’ll continue to receive monthly free amounts of these services. If you exceed your monthly free amounts for any of these services, you’ll be billed for them at pay-as-you-go rates.

The following list includes the Azure free services which are free forever (most of them with certain limitations and usage restrictions).

  • Advisor
  • API Management
  • App Configuration
  • App Service
  • Automation
  • Azure AI Bot Service
  • Azure AI Immersive Reader
  • Azure AI Language
  • Azure AI Metrics Advisor
  • Azure Arc
  • Azure Attestation
  • Azure Cosmos DB
  • Azure DevOps
  • Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
  • Azure Lighthouse
  • Azure Managed Applications, Service catalog
  • Azure Maps
  • Azure Migrate
  • Azure Policy
  • Azure Resource Mover
  • Azure SignalR Service
  • Bandwidth (Data Transfer) (outbound)
  • Batch
  • Cloud Shell
  • Cognitive Search
  • Container Apps
  • Cost Management
  • Data Catalog
  • Data Factory
  • Database Migration Service
  • DevTest Labs
  • Event Grid
  • Face
  • Functions
  • Health Bot
  • Health Data Services
  • IoT Edge
  • IoT Hub
  • Logic Apps
  • Machine Learning
  • Microsoft Entra ID (formerly Azure AD)
  • Monitor
  • Network Watcher
  • Notification Hubs
  • Open Datasets
  • Private Link
  • Resource Manager
  • Security Center
  • Service Fabric
  • Spatial Anchors
  • Speaker Recognition
  • Speech to Text
  • Speech Translation
  • SQL Database
  • SQL Server 2019 Developer Edition
  • Static Web Apps
  • Text to Speech
  • Virtual Network
  • Visual Studio Code
  • Web PubSub

Azure sponsorship offers

There are various types of Azure subscriptions which are offered as sponsored subscriptions. The most noteworthy examples include the following:

Azure free student account

Students in any recognized tertiary education institution are eligible for an Azure free student account, starting with 100 USD free credit (without requiring the usage of a credit card) and then utilizing the Azure always free and 12-month free services (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/free/students/).

Microsoft 365 free developer program

Developers are eligible for a free Microsoft 365 subscription which is only meant to be used for development purposes and not for production sites (https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/dev-program). The free M365 developer program includes a sandbox Microsoft 365 subscription with the following benefits:

  • Includes 25 user licenses for development purposes
  • Preconfigured for sideloading Teams apps
  • Fully loaded sample data with 16 sample users, user data, and content to help you model your solutions.
  • Easy access to pre-provisioned core Microsoft 365 workloads and capabilities (Windows not included), including:
    • All Office 365 apps
    • Everything you need for Power Platform development
    • Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection
    • Advanced analytics with Power BI
    • Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) for compliance and information protection
    • Microsoft Entra ID for building advanced identity and access management solutions

Sample data packs are also included to help developers save time when developing applications on the Microsoft 365 platform. The sample data packs include the following features:

  • Microsoft Graph user, mail, and calendar data – 16 sample users with user data and content, integrated with Teams developer environment.
  • Teams data pack with the following customized developer environment:
    • App sideloading pre-configured.
    • Five sample teams, channels, tabs, and chat sessions built around the 16 sample users.
    • Developer Portal pre-installed to help you streamline the creation of your Teams app manifest and package, plus the card editor and a React control library.
  • SharePoint Framework sample data – Choose from six site templates that you can install and evaluate for your organization (with one pre-installed).

More details about the Microsoft 365 developer program can be found at: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/office/developer-program/microsoft-365-developer-program-faq.

Azure for education

Recognized tertiary education institutions are eligible for the Azure for education free tools and services:

The Azure for education “bundle” includes the following software benefits.

  • Azure service credits worth of 100 USD for 12 months
  • Agents for Visual Studio
  • Azure DevOps Server
  • Datazen Enterprise Server
  • Remote Tools for Visual Studio
  • Machine Learning Server
  • Microsoft R Client
  • Microsoft R Server
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Skype for Business Server
  • SQL Server Developer
  • SQL Server Standard
  • System Center
  • Visio Professional
  • Visual Studio Code
  • Visual Studio Community
  • Visual Studio for Mac
  • Windows Server
  • Windows 10/11 licenses

Also some education institutions receive national grants from their local governments or other entities to make use of Azure services or Microsoft 365 services. In the case of Microsoft 365, the offered licenses are A1 for faculty and A1 for students. Faculty and students can upgrade to A3 licenses for more features and benefits. An example of a locally funded A1 license offering for educational institutions in Greece is Delos (https://delos365.grnet.gr/).

Azure for non-profits

If you are a legally approved non-profit or non-governmental organization (NPO or NGO), you are eligible for the Microsoft Azure Grant. The Azure Grant is a free package of Azure credits which can be consumed on any Azure resources within one calendar year. The Azure Grant is offered as part of various other Microsoft free services to NGOs and it can be renewed on an annual basis via the Microsoft Non-Profit Hub. More details about the Azure Grant and the registration procedure can be found at: https://nonprofit.microsoft.com/.

Azure for startups Founders Hub

If you are a startup company, you may be eligible for Azure credits via the Azure for Startups Founders Hub. https://foundershub.startups.microsoft.com/signup. The Azure for Startups Founders Hub offers the following benefits at high level:

  • Cutting edge AI tools
  • Free Azure credits
  • Access to real people
  • Free software and development tools

A more detailed list of benefits and services can be found in the following article: https://startups.microsoft.com/blog/founders-hub-benefits/.

The eligibility requirements and registration and application procedure are described at https://foundershubsupportcenter.powerappsportals.com/category/?id=CAT-01005.

Free Azure training resources

Last but not least, Microsoft offers a variety of free training and education resources related to Microsoft Azure and Cloud Computing. My separate blog post (https://stefanos.cloud/blog/microsoft-azure-free-training-resources/) discusses these free Azure training resource.