Microsoft recently announced a series of new features and a price reduction for its Azure cloud storage service. Microsoft General Manager Steven Martin explained the company's move in a blog post, noting that the move may bring the cost of Azure down by as much as 28 percent. This follows a 12 percent reduction Microsoft announced on March 8. However, affordability is only one angle the company is taking in an effort to attract new cloud customers.

"Reducing prices is only part of the story; we’ve also added more value to our storage offerings in a number of ways," Martin wrote. "Our Geo Redundant Storage continues to lead the market in durability with more than 400 miles of separation between replicas. We recently announced deployment of a flat network for Windows Azure across all of our data centers to provide very high bandwidth network connectivity for storage clients which significantly enhances scenarios like MapReduce, HPC, and others."

The additional value appears to have resonated with customers. According to Martin, Microsoft now stores more than 4 trillion objects and manages 270,000 requests per second. Additional value propositions include a 90-day trial for new customers and loyalty programs that may reduce cloud storage costs further.

This move follows similar cost reductions in both Google's and Amazon's cloud storage services. As ZDNet columnist David Meyer reported, Amazon reduced the cost of its offering by 24 to 27 percent just two days after a 20 percent reduction in the cost of Google's service. As Microsoft's blog post indicates, however, price is only one piece of the puzzle in attracting new customers. Cloud storage companies will likely have to deal with increased expectations and develop innovative ways to differentiate themselves from the competition as market competition escalates.

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