Amazon has announced a major update to EC2, its service that provides on-demand computing power.
The service has graduated from "beta" to production level, which means that a Service Level Agreement is now available. If you experience uptime below 99.95% in a given month and you can provide supporting evidence, Amazon will provide a 10% service credit for that month's bill.
Even more interesting is the news that you can now run Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server on EC2 instances. Amazon's Windows on EC2 documentation lists the prices for running these instances: from 12.5¢ per hour for a small instance with Windows only, and from $1.35 per hour for an instance with Windows, SQL Server, and Authentication Services. See the Windows AMIs listing for more details.
Understandably, Windows instances on EC2 work very differently than the Linux ones. The folks at RightScale have published a blog post describing some of the differences and quirks of the Windows instances.
Although I much prefer "Unixy" platforms for my own development, I can imagine situations where it would be very handy to have a Windows machine easily available -- such as for running those vital but irritating programs that are only made available for Windows. Australian Tax Office, I'm looking at you...