The Windows Azure Marketplace has a hidden jewel: a host of free and nearly free databases.
My article on Windows Azure Marketplace databases just published online and in the November 2011 print issue of Visual Studio Magazine.
This article explores 14 different free databases or databases that are free for the first several thousand queries per month. These include topics such as language translation, economics, crime, health, real estate, and global statistics.
A sample MVC 3 web site is available for download that demonstrates using these databases, in both C# and Visual Basic code. The same techniques used can be used to consume the additional 100+ paid databases available in the Windows Azure Marketplace in many more topics.
I hope you find it useful.
Microsoft MVP Visual Basic
Okemos, MI USA