"Microsoft has hit on a direct path to university researchers’ hearts and minds: give them free tools and easy access to huge data sets.
The software maker has started grafting popular scientific databases and analysis tools onto its Windows Azure cloud computing service. This basically means that researchers in various fields can get access to a fast supercomputer of their very own and pose queries to enormous data sets that Microsoft keeps up to date. For the time being, Microsoft will allow some research groups to perform their work free, while others will have to rent calculation time on Azure via a credit card."
Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft