There was a surprising amount of content on PHP at the Microsoft Hosting Summit. Who would have thought that at a Microsoft Hosting conference, PHP would be front and center as a highlighted topic? There was even one breakout session devoted to discussing PHP on Windows. After trying to fight PHP with ASP for years, Microsoft has changed their tune and is now embracing PHP – trying to get PHP to run as a first class citizen on top of Windows.
However, Microsoft does have their work cut out for them as PHP has built a solid footing in the LAMP stack and it will be very difficult to win over hardcore PHP developers to move to Windows. I know some passionate PHP and Open Source developers that refuse to run any piece of Microsoft software in their home, and even at work if they can help it. That kind of passion is hard to overcome and definitely not the group for Microsoft to focus on.
Part of Microsoft’s strategy is to work with application vendors and open source communities which is a smart move. A big factor in choosing a particular OS for hosting is the users choice of applications. If Microsoft can assist in distributing PHP applications which work on the Windows platform, then it is a win-win for the application vendors as they increase their market share and may even make inroads into the Microsoft developer crowd, while Microsoft can gain more users hosting on Windows with familiar applications. This is part of the idea behind the Web Platform Installer beta 2.0 (WebPI) that was debuted for hosting partners at the Hosting Summit and introduced to the public at MIX 2009.
With the introduction of WebPI, it is going to be interesting to see how this all plays out in the upcoming years. There are some Microsoft partners who are also trying to create their own platform for application distribution too. For example, Parallels has been pushing their APS standard for years. they’ve been working hard to create an application marketplace that integrates with Parallels software and any other systems using the APS standard. Other control panel vendors have also created their own application installation systems as well.
In any case, I think that it is great that Microsoft if focusing on improving the application deployment experience. Any improvement here will be a big win for users and hosts.
VP Marketing and Business Development