Amazon.com's announcement that it is extending its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) platform for Windows applications to Europe represents another station of the cross in the pilgrimage to web working.

Amazon Web Services, a subsidiary of the online retailer, will run the Windows Server operating system and SQL Server database for customers in a move that will let a huge number of Windows apps run in the cloud within Amazon's datacentres. As well as supporting Windows, Amazon will make the AWS Management Console available in the EU region, meaning that admins can control resources via a web interface.

In Europe, Amazon already offers EC2 for Linux and Unix applications, the Simple Storage Service (S3) data storage and retrieval facility and the CloudFront content delivery system.

Pay-as-you-go web-based services promise to remove the admin and capital expenditure burdens compared to internal datacentres and are already piquing the interest of cash-strapped IT shops. Expect the many trials already taking place on web services to turn into real deployments this year, especially for web-centric traders.

One example of just such a conversion touted by Amazon is phone retailer eXpansys. In a statement, eXpansys CTO Matt Kydd said moving its e-commerce infrastructure to the Windows-based EC2 "will halve our operating costs and almost eliminate IT capital expenditure".

Capgemini Outsourcing CTO Karl Deacon said the move "eradicated one of the last barriers to cloud adoption".