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Microsoft Web Platform Installer


For years, the LAMP stack has been a success story of the open source world. Based on the components of Linux, Apache web server, MySQL and PHP/Perl/Python, it has enabled many fantastic applications to be built: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Moodle and more. The ease of use for developers and admins has lead to this stack being almost the de facto standard for hosting these applications.

Generally these packages also worked under Microsoft’s web server, IIS, but usually with some difficulty in setting up and maintaining the site. Most of the projects help forums are for those who run it on the LAMP stack. Downloads are usually zipped, and need to be set up manually. Linux distros such as Debian may have the packages in their repositories, but they may be a little out of date.

Microsoft finally decided to help people who run Windows Servers to be able to easily join in on the party. The result was the Web Platform Installer, more information can be found here

While the focus of the tool seems to be to promote ASP.Net based applications, PHP based applications are also available and supported. Indeed, supporting these PHP applications has made installing products like Moodle and Gallery a lot simpler, as the package has scripts that set up the correct rights on folders, connection to the database and more.

The Installer sets up various aspects of IIS for you, installs a Microsoft SQL Express Database, PHP and other tools you will need for the applications.

At the moment, the number of applications is still quite small, but it is growing. Applications I wish to see in the future include PHPBB3, MediaWiki, and most importantly, Joomla. Microsoft does not package the applications themselves, but rather provides the guidelines and tools to create the packages. Hopefully members of the above mentioned communities will band together to package the apps to eventually have them appear in the Installer.

The Installer makes life easy in many ways, but it is not the be all end all. Admins still need to test the security of their websites, directory permissions and so to ensure the most secure website possible.

Overall, I really like this tool and hope that in time it will continue to grow and offer more and more killer applications. Microsoft have done sterling work to get PHP to run better and faster under Windows, and this is hopefully a sign of even more things to come.

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