Giving you access to a straight-up hosted Microsoft SQL Server would be too useful, so in the Azure platform, you get a weak abstraction over it. You can query this data store with a LINQ-like language over REST or SOAP. Why not provide you with just an SQL server? Because scaling an SQL server arbitrarily is a real pain in the nuts, and you can scrape by with this abstraction. I hope you're not too dependent on stored procedures. That will learn you to tightly couple your data and your business logic, fucker.
They should teach that stuff in Computer Science class!
The article was a bit short sighted when discussing Live Services however:
It serves no practical purpose in the greater scheme of the system and can be safely ignored.
Excuse me? Come again? You want to ignore 460 million users and services that account for 11% of internet minutes? Just don’t tell your investors you made that decision!!
Well it’s hard to give good advice all the time… Ignore it at your peril I say, Live Services is all about socializing your software – this stuff is going to drive users to your apps and enable exciting new customer experiences all with minimal extra coding required. To get a feel for what I’m talking about check out the keynote demos from PDC with BBC iPlayer and Blockbuster:
There’s also my main man Ori Amiga who’s got a sweet Windows Client app which you can see at 120.50 minutes.