Upgrading Windows Azure Cloud Services to Server 2012 and .NET 4.5

In this post I’ll walk through the options for upgrading an existing Cloud Service using OS Family (1 or 2) to use Windows Server 2012 (OS Family 3) and .NET 4.5.

Traditionally, to upgrade a Cloud Service all that is required is to click the update button in the Windows Azure portal after uploading your updated package or publishing with Visual Studio. However, when changing OS Families from (1 or 2) to 3 you will receive the error saying “Upgrade from OS family 1 to OS family 3 is not allowed”. This is a temporary restriction on the update policy that we are working to remove in an upcoming release.

In the mean time there are two workarounds to updating your existing Windows Azure Cloud Service to run with .NET 4.5 and OS family 3 (Server 2012):

  • VIP Swap (recommended approach)
  • Delete and Re-deploy

Both have different pros/cons that are outlined in the table below. Detailed walkthroughs of both the options are provided below:

VIP Swap Fast and simple. Usual VIP swap restrictions apply.
Delete/Re-deploy Can make any change to the updated application. VIP swap restrictions do not apply. Loss of availability while the application is deleted and then redeployed. Potential change in the public IP address after the   redeployment.

Configuring Your Project for Upgrade

Step 1: Open the solution in Visual Studio.

In the example below the solution is named Sdk1dot7 and there are two projects. The first is an MVC Web Role project (MvcWebRole1) and the second is the Windows Azure Cloud Service project (Sdk1dot7).


Step 2: Upgrade the Project

Right click on the Cloud Service project  (Sdk1dot7) and select properties. Note in the picture below, the properties page shows that this project was built the June 2012 SP1 Windows Azure Tools version. Click the “Upgrade” button. After the upgrade, if you check this properties sheet again, it should show that the current Windows Azure Tools
version is October 2012.


Step 3: Open ServiceConfiguration.Cloud.cscfg: csu3

Change OSFamily from (1 or 2) to 3.


New Value: osFamily=”3″

Step 4: Modify the Web Role to use .NET 4.5

Open the properties sheet of the WebRole project by right-clicking the WebRole project and clicking on “Properties”.


In the “Application” tab look for the “Target framework” dropdown. It should show .NET 4.0.


Open the dropdown and select .NET 4.5. You’ll get a “Target Framework Change” dialog box, click “Yes” to proceed. The Target Framework should now read .NET 4.5.

Rebuild by hitting ‘F6’. You might get some build errors due to namespace clashes between some new libraries that have been introduced in .NET 4.5. These are easy enough to fix. If you cannot, feel free to add the comment and I’ll respond.

Deploying using VIP Swap

You can deploy from within Visual Studio or from the Windows Azure Portal. In this post, I’ll show the steps to deploy through the portal.

Step 1: Generate the .cspkg and .cscfg files for upload.

Right click on your Cloud Service project (Sdk1Dot7) and select Package:


After the packaging is complete, a file explorer window will open with the newly created .cspkg and .cscfg files for your Cloud Service.

Step 2: Uploading the Files to the Staging Slot using the Windows Azure Portal

Open the Windows Azure portal at https://manage.windowsazure.com and select your cloud service. Click on the “Staging” tab (circled in red in the accompanying picture below).

Once on the staging tab, click on the “Update” button on the bottom panel (circled in green in the accompanying picture below).


From there a dialog will open requesting the newly created files packaged from Visual Studio.

Select “From Local” button for both and upload  the files that were generated during packaging. Remember to check the “Update even if one or more roles contain single instance” if you have a single instance role. These options are circled in red in the picture below. Click on the check marked circle to proceed.


Step 3: Test the new deployment

At this point you will have your application running on OS family 3 and using .NET 4.5 in the staging slot and your original application using OS family 1/2 and .NET 4.0 in the production slot. Browse to the application by clicking the Site URL on the dashboard under the staging slot.

Step 4: Perform the VIP Swap to Production

On either the production or the staging tab, click on the “swap” button located in the bottom panel next to the update button (circled in green in the accompanying picture).


After this operation completes, you will have your application running on OS family 3 and using .NET 4.5 in place of the original application.

Deleting Your Deployment

The second option is to delete your deployment. This is not going to be the recommended approach for a production application because you will have downtime and there is a probability of losing the current IP address assigned to your VIP. This option is really only useful for dev/test where you do not want to go through the VIP swap life cycle or you are making changes to the cloud service that are restricted during an in-place upgrade using VIP swaps.

To delete your deployment open the Windows Azure portal at https://manage.windowsazure.com and select your cloud service. Click the “STOP” button in the bottom panel (circled in green in the accompanying picture). Click “yes” on the dialog box that pops up.


Once the service is deleted you can simply republish from Visual Studio or package and upload using Visual Studio + the management portal.