Since PING is dead, the fastest tool to test if a server is responding is Telnet Client.
For installing Telnet Client, go to Control Panel. On the Control Panel Home page, click "Programs". In the "Programs and Features" section, click "Turn Windows features on or off". In the "Windows Features" list, select "Telnet Client", and then click OK.
Here's a simplified approach to using telnet client (you need to type this into your command prompt):
telnet [host] [port]
Since your would be normally using telnet client for testing web servers, you would use port 80 like this:
C:\>telnet dnsazure.com 80
If the server responds, you can communicate with it, and for that, the screen goes blank. Close the Command Prompt window to get rid of that.
If the server does not respond, Telnet will wait and inform you about the timeout:
C:\>telnet dnsazure.com 81 Connecting To dnsazure.com...Could not open connection to the host, on port 81: Connect failed C:\>
Telnet is really simple and elegant. Use it any time you want to make sure a server is ok.