Amazon Web Services is launching a free service that will be available to new customers starting November 1.

The free service will give AWS customers a free Amazon EC2 Micro Instance for one year. It means that developers get a year to use Amazon S3, Amazon Elastic Block Store, Amazon Elastic Load Balancing and AWS data transfer.

AWS maintains that the free service allows new users to run anything they want in the cloud. That means the ability to launch new applications or test existing applications.

This may be one of those deals where you have to read the fine print to some extent. A micro-instance does not provide a lot of power. It may be sufficient for a web site, which would be beneficial for low end users.

According to AWS:

"Micro instances provide 613 MB of memory and support 32-bit and 64-bit platforms on both Linux and Windows. Micro instance pricing for On-Demand instances starts at $0.02 per hour for Linux and $0.03 per hour for Windows.

Customers have asked us for a lower priced instance type that could satisfy the needs of their less demanding applications. Micro instances are optimized for applications that require lower throughput, but which still may consume significant compute cycles periodically. Micro instances provide a small amount of consistent CPU resources, and also allow you to burst CPU capacity when additional cycles are available."

It appears that the most likely competitor is Google App Engine, which offers a free service for app development. AWS can provide that service but also the infrastructure.

The question we have: What market is AWS trying to reach? The web site owner looking for a cloud service? What do you think?