Introducing the Microsoft Azure Preview Portal

Microsoft has introduced the new Azure Preview Portal to create and manage your Microsoft Azure environment. This new portal is not only easier to use, but provides more detailed information and lots of new functionality.

While there are still a few items which cannot yet be managed using the new portal (such as Azure Backup), most can. There is even a new generation of many object types giving additional levels of security and usability.

New Look and Feel

As you can see the new portal is tile based to give a look and feel familiar to users of Windows 8, Windows 10, or Windows Phone. Objects (such as storage containers or VMs) can be pinned to the dashboard, and tiles can be resized to show the desired level of details.

The left navigation column contains a partial list of favorite categories. This list of favorite categories can be modified, making it easier for you to navigate your environment.

Modern VS. Classic Objects

Once you start to dig into the new portal, you’ll notice that some categories are listed twice. For example: Virtual Machines and Virtual Machines (classic). Classic categories can be managed using the traditional Azure Portal or the new Preview Portal. The modern version (without the “classic” label) typically can only be managed in the new portal. This is due to the long list of new features for these categories.

With Classic Virtual Machines, Cloud Services are used to manage the public IP address, and the VM’s Endpoint settings determine individual ports open for incoming traffic.

When you create a modern generation Virtual Machine, a Network Security Group is automatically created. You can think of this as a firewall appliance where individual ports (and port ranges) can be opened for either incoming or outgoing traffic. You can also specify static public and private IP addresses using the graphical interface. With the old portal, static IP addresses required a little PowerShell.

Easier Virtual Machine Creation

In the old portal, before creating a virtual machine, you would first want to create your virtual network, storage containers, and Cloud Service. In most cases, the actual VM is the last item built.

With the new Azure Preview Portal, networking and storage are created during the VM creation process. You can even define static IP addresses and customize your virtual network in the wizard.

But What about PowerShell??

If you prefer to stay away from the GUI and use PowerShell to perform administrative tasks, you still can. PowerShell functionality for Azure is constantly improving, and will only get better over time.

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