I often hear from people that they want to try out the Virtual Machine Role (VM Role for short) but cannot find it in the Windows Azure portal and don’t see the option in Visual Studio. This is because it is still in beta and requires you to request access—and receive acceptance—into the program. Fortunately, we make it very easy to get accepted – essentially request access, wait a week, and you’re in.

If you don’t have access to Windows Azure, I highly recommend you change that with the Windows Azure Pass – it lasts for 30 days, it’s free, and it doesn’t require a credit card. I’ve previously posted instructions on setting up the Windows Azure Pass. This is a painless and easy way to try out the platform.

To request access to the beta simply follow these steps:

  1. Browse to http://windows.azure.com/.

  2. Login with your Windows Live account.

  3. In the left menu, select Beta Programs. This will load the Beta Program page in the main frame.
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  4. You should see (at the time of this post) two available beta programs – Windows Azure Connect and VM Role. On the right, select the checkbox for VM Role (you may as well do it for Windows Azure Connect while you’re at it).
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  5. Click the Apply for Access button.

After you apply your status will change to Pending. It generally takes about a week to get accepted into the beta program. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do to accelerate the process.

Once you’re accepted your status will change to Active and you’ll receive an email with additional instructions on how to get started – be on the lookout! One indicator that you’re actively in the beta program is you’ll see VM Images in your list.

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I hope this helps, and enjoy the VM Role!