IIS7 - The latest and greatest from Microsoft.
IIS7 is the latest iteration of the Microsoft's web server. Formerly know as the Internet Information Server, IIS has come to dominate most of the servers belonging to Fortune 100 companies though Apache remains the market leader overall. According to the latest statistics over a third of all sites are backed by IIS.
Benefits of IIS7 over IIS6
IIS7 is one of the more significant updates to the IIS platform. The biggest change is the modular nature of the engine. This means that one can configure IIS7 to support only features that are needed, adding more as and when necessary. In addition to improving it's flexibility, this leads to a significant leap in security. For example, you can add modules from scripting and even backward compatibility.
Another significant improvement, is the use of an XML based web.config file (just like in .NET applications) to handle the configuration of the entire server configuration. This leads to improvements in portability, fine tuning as well as ease of access compared with the previous hierarchical metabase storage up until IIS6.
There is also good news for VPN users. IIS7 has improved it's remote management capability by providing secure HTTP connections though you have to enable remote management manually. But that can be good as some viewed the earlier setup as more vulnerable.
Though there are many more improvements, let us look at some reasons why you should an IIS7 engine over a more traditional server like Apache.
Benefits of IIS7 over Apache
For most people the ability to use PHP scripts on IIS used to deter them from using a Windows platform. Even a hosting provider like Godaddy disallows the use of a PHP based application like WordPress on a Windows server. However, the latest releases of IIS and especially IIS 7 give massive performance improvements while running PHP scripts to the extent that PHP is no longer the sole reason not to choose IIS.
Today more and more site owners are turning to Windows to host their PHP based applications, and WordPress on windows is picking up a huge following. Thanks to improvements around PHP and IIS through the cooperative efforts of Zend and Microsoft, PHP performance is much more stable, reliable and faster than it was on earlier versions.
Of course, if you plan to make use of the awesome .NET platform, then IIS 7 is your only choice. With the latest release of ASP.NET 3.5 and full support for the MVC framework there has never been a more compelling time to develop applications in .NET. In addition, Microsoft's Web PI has made it easier than ever to install all .NET related components. IIS 7 has also significantly improved it's usability interface eschewing the full MMC framework it had earlier.
IIS7 also features improved diagnostics capability with advanced error tracking that allows you to trace errors based on the conditions you want IIS to look out for. This could be tracking down timed out pages or other errors through it's "failed request tracing" capability.
All in all, this is the time to switch over to a Windows platform if you've been sitting on the fence till now. The new security features coupled with the flexibility, ease of use and diagnostics have made IIS 7 quite an irresistible choice for those looking to host their web applications.