Setting up a Minecraft Server on Windows Azure
Setting up a Minecraft server on Windows Azure is quite straightforward. I was able to hack my way through it without much effort, which is a contrast to AWS, which I never figured out. Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert in Windows Azure or Windows Server. I just hit buttons until everything worked. If you would like to suggest a more optimal setup, please hit me up at @nickheiner.
I’ve had this set up for 24 hours, so I don’t know how the long term pricing / performance works out.
[Aside: Is a cloud hosted VM right for you?]
- Go to https://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/
- Make sure you have a subscription with your Windows Live ID (the free trial should work fine, although it’s not what I’m on.)
- Go to the Azure dashboard
- Click “new” in the lower left hand corner
- Hover over “virtual machine” and click “apply for preview”
- Sign up for the Virtual Machine preview
- Dance step - do a little jig in your chair (it should take a few minutes for your preview to be enabled)
- Once you get an email confirming that you’re in the VM preview, go back to the Azure dashboard
- Click “new” » “virtual machine” » “quick create”
- Fill out the quick create form. Pick “Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate” as the image. I chose “Small” as the size. For “Location”, pick whatever is closest to the majority of your players. Be sure to remember what you pick for “password”.
- When you’re happy with the settings, click “create virtual machine”
- Dance step 2 - wait a few minutes for the VM to spin up
- When the VM is running, go to “Virtual machines” on the left hand navigation menu
- Highlight the VM you made
- Click “connect” at the bottom of the screen
- When the .rdp download completes, launch it and follow the prompts to connect. When asked, your username is “Administrator”, and your password is whatever you picked in step 9. 
- Download and install the latest version of the Java Runtime Environment 
- Get your Minecraft server .exe and files. 
- Launch “Windows Firewall with Advanced Security” 
- Add the following Inbound Rules by clicking “new rule” in the upper right hand corner: Minecraft Server - For “type of rule”, pick “program”; for the program path, pick your Minecraft_server.exe Minecraft port - Type: “port”; Specific local port: 25565 
- Launch the Minecraft server
- In the Azure dashboard, go to “Virtual Machines”, and click on your VM to get to the VM management page. Click “endpoints” » “add endpoint” » “add endpoint” » protocol: TCP; public port: 25565 
- Launch the Minecraft client and try connecting to your new server by using the URL listed on the management page for your VM. 
At this point, you should be good to go. Send questions, comments, feedback to @nickheiner.
 Windows Server 2012 comes with a version of IE that is incredibly locked down. I’m not sure how to remove these restrictions so it’s actually usable, so I just downloaded Chrome instead.
 You need Java to run Minecraft
 Since I use Dropbox for everything, this involved installing Dropbox and syncing the minecraft folder.
 You can find it by doing a search for the app name
 I don’t know if those are both necessary.
 This also takes a minute to get set up, and may not be necessary
 It should look something like “foo.cloudapp.net”.