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According to this recent conversation, I learned that the "ASP.NET and web development" workload is required for the "Host in the cloud" option to be enabled for connected templates. However, I only installed the Azure development and Xamarin workloads, but still see that the option is enabled.
These are rough _potential_ explanations that I've drawn from this:
1) The web dev workload is not actually required
2) It is a bug, and the feature will not be fully functional because of the missing workload.
3) The necessary components in the web dev workload are included in another workload.
1) Install VS2017 with the Azure and Xamarin workloads selected (UWP is not required for this test case)
2) After installation, start VS2017
3) Go to File>New>Project and select Cross Platform to open the Cross Platform wizard
4) Select the Master Detail template option
Expected: The "Host in the cloud" option should not be enabled
Actual: Observe that the option to "Host in the cloud" is enabled
dev env: https://gist.github.com/BenBeckley/ac3c9e339fc7a9d8cb56be1f5d3195ff
Went over this with Joaquin and found that the MobileAppService is still being successfully unfolded and can be built without needing the web dev workload. Additionally, there is no other unexpected behavior.
Thus, we have come to the conclusion that the workload is not needed. Marking this as resolved answered.