Yes you heard it right. The following is the excerpt from Steven Martin, General Manager Windows Azure Business Planning.
“To help make identity management in the cloud accessible and available to every business and organization in the world, we are announcing today that two key features of Windows Azure Active Directory are available at no charge.”
Access control provides centralized authentication and authorization by integrating with consumer identity providers, such as Facebook, or using on-premises Windows Server Active Directory. By having Access Control available you can create a single application that can allow users to login with both their Organizational Credentials stored in Windows Azure AD or Windows Server AD, or to login in using popular consumer service identity services like Microsoft Account, Facebook, Google, or Twitter. Historically, Access Control has been priced based on the number of transactions. We are now making it free.
Core Directory & Authentication enables capabilities such as single sign-on, user and group management, directory synchronization and directory federation. These features are currently free in the Windows Azure AD Developer Preview and will remain free after it reaches general availability.
Some details on ACS and Windows Azure Directory
Windows Azure Access Control Service (ACS)
Windows Azure Access Control Service (ACS) is a cloud-based service that provides an easy way of authenticating and authorizing users to gain access to your web applications and services while allowing the features of authentication and authorization to be factored out of your code. Instead of implementing an authentication system with user accounts that are specific to your application, you can let ACS orchestrate the authentication and much of the authorization of your users. ACS integrates with standards-based identity providers, including enterprise directories such as Active Directory, and web identities such as Windows Live ID, Google, Yahoo!, and Facebook.
Windows Azure Active Directory
Windows Azure Active Directory (Windows Azure AD) is a modern, REST-based service that provides identity management and access control capabilities for your cloud applications. Now you have one identity service across Windows Azure, Microsoft Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online, Windows Intune and other 3rd party cloud services. Windows Azure Active Directory provides a cloud-based identity provider that easily integrates with your on-premises AD deployments and full support of third party identity providers.