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Microsoft's IIS 7 will aid PHP developers' Windows deployments

Open source software advocate W. Jason Gilmore attended a recent Microsoft confab for Web developers. In this column, he discusses Redmond's Linux-friendlier IIS 7. In another report, he offers views on Microsoft's Codeplex, a code repository that mimics but doesn't live up to Sourceforge. -- Editor

Check out Microsoft's Codeplex:
Open source vet looks inside Microsoft's Sourceforge knockoff

Do you develop your PHP applications on Windows but deploy on Linux? Microsoft is seeking to keep you on board for the duration.

At the Microsoft Web Developer's Summit, held in Redmond, Wash., last week, Microsoft announced their efforts to improve PHP's stability and performance on the Windows platform.

During a session wherein key Microsoft developers met with a group of PHP-minded Web developers, IIS product unit manager Bill Staples and program manager Mike Volodarsky discussed IIS 7 and their efforts to improve PHP's performance on the Windows platform.

Staples recapped the numerous security-related enhancements poured into IIS 6 in light of the server's notorious track record of high-profile security gaffes, including the likes of Nimda and Code Red. Then, he underscored the effort's success, noting that there has been no need for any critical IIS security patches in more than three years.

The discussion soon moved on to PHP's relationship with the Windows platform. Staples and Volodarsky acknowledged that many PHP developers build applications on Windows -- generally running Apache's Windows port -- but deploy on Linux. They said new features will support developers who wish to take this path. This means inclusion of features long available to Apache, such as URL rewriting, and an open extensibility model to encourage community-driven development.

Staples and Volodarsky also addressed the historical stability issues surrounding running PHP on IIS, due to incompability issues pertinent to IIS' multithreaded environment. Using CGI improves stability, but comes at a cost of significant performance degradation. Volodarsky noted the team's interest in improving on both fronts, mentioning they were exploring a FastCGI-based solution, but nothing concrete has yet come of it.

While it's clear much work remains before IIS and PHP will work efficiently in a production environment, those wishing to simply experiment with running PHP on IIS will be pleased to know the ISAPI configuration process has been greatly simplified. Staples recently published a blog entry highlighting the required steps.

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