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Microsoft and PHP

Yes, when I think of Microsoft and PHP, I think  of Joe.Dear Reader,

I’ve been doing a lot of research on PHP running on Windows lately and I’ve been really surprised by two things.

1: It actually runs well if setup properly.
I don’t have a spare computer so I’m not going to discuss performance or show benchmarks. I am talking about ease of use in getting things setup. I installed WS08 in VirtualBox. Then I used Web Platform Installer to install PHP, FastCGI, URL Re-writer (I didn’t even know they had one) and finally WordPress. The only thing that Web Platform Installer didn’t do was install MySQL for me. (but it told me it needed it.) If you are used to Installatron or Fantastico, Web Platform Installer isn’t nearly as polished but it’s a good first effort and I was able to eventually get everything installed. (WordPress took 3 tries and some guessing because the error reporting wasn’t great) All in all though, it was a positive experience and WordPress runs well.

No, I’m not nearly ready to give up my Linux servers in production and despite Sam Ramji’s recent pleas to their open source vendors not to compete on price but compete on value, I can still fail fast and cheap using open source software and operating systems, and I just can’t do that with Windows. Now though, PHP is a stable and fast option for companies with existing Windows infrastructure.

As you can see from this very informal and unscientific poll, a lot of PHP developers don’t use Windows because of stability/performance issues.

It is to those developers that I suggest that you may want to look again. If you participated in that poll and your second answer was price, sorry, can’t help you there. I don’t begrudge Microsoft its licensing fees even if I do sometimes disagree with how they collect them.

2: A lot of open source developers just don’t trust Microsoft, just because.

(Yet another informal and unscientific poll)

Let me preface this section by saying that I have been in IT for 26 years now, I owned a copy of Windows 1.0. So I not only know a lot of the history of Microsoft, I lived through most of it. I can remember being very excited about Windows NT Server because finally, I could throw off the shackles of Novel and work with an open server operating system. (No, kidding, I actually told someone that one time) So I’m smart enough to see the wisdom in what Microsoft is doing with PHP but I’m old enough to be suspicious.

I am, however, willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I am part of the slim majority on the above poll who thinks they are sincere. (BTW, since the link is to a live poll, let me say that currently, “Microsoft is Sincere” is in the lead with 54%.) The reason I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt is not because I believe that the core of Microsoft has changed in any way – their recent lawsuit against TomTom proved that to me – but because I believe that inside of Microsoft, there are pockets of brilliance. I believe these pockets of brilliance will eventually infect the rest of Microsoft. People like Sam Ramji, Laruen Cooney, Josh Holms, Drew Robbins and of course, Joe Stagner, give me hope that things will change there.

What IS your point?
This entire post was sparked by the second poll and Joe’s response to my comment on the results. I know there is a group of open source developers who will never like Microsoft. I know there is a group who won’t use Windows because of the price tag.

I believe though that there is a group of us out there that use the best tool for the job. We use PHP because it’s the best tool for web development. When it comes to operating systems, the best tool for the job is whatever fits best with the client. We recognize that Windows is a viable option for PHP applications.

Until next time,

11 thoughts on “Microsoft and PHP

  1. Ellis,

    I’m not yet to the point where I would run a Windows box in production on the Internet. However, for intranet applications, I can’t see a good reason to install Linux or even Apache on a Windows box these days. It’s stable and my one test, WordPress, works great.

    I’m sure as things improve, so will my attitude towards deploying WS08 on the Internet. Right now I’m sure a big part of my hesitation is that 8 years on Linux means that I know how to get things done on it. WS08 is a different beast. :)

    Thanks for the comment!


  2. I know that PHP runs well on Windows, but would never run it production on a Windows box for many reasons. I run it for dev’ing and that’s all.

  3. Of our top 5 customers, 2 have IT departments that are MS shops. That we could run on their current Windows Server & SQL Server infrastructure helped us win the business. Win 2K3 at the moment, but I’m expecting a migration to Win2K8 in the next 12 months or so. The biggest pain is the lack of bach, rsync and ssh as all our standard scripts don’t work :)

    To my mind, the fact that PHP runs well on Windows and *nix and connects to all databases is a competitive advantage and we leverage this in our pitches.



  4. @Rob “The biggest pain is the lack of bach, rsync and ssh as all our standard scripts don’t work :)”

    This is precisely the reason I find it very difficult to work on Windows machines. The Linux command line is my number one tool and I would be well a truly lost without vim, ssh and rsync.

  5. Pingback: Cal Evans’ Blog: Microsoft and PHP | Cole Design Studios
  6. It would be interesting to see who choose linux for stability rather than performance. Stability and performance are two different topic :)

  7. Ok so PHP works on windows, so what? Microsoft is finally serious about PHP, wow, all that proves is how behind they always are! Why the heck would I want to run it on windows? I battled with windows desktop OS for 14 years and only recently saw the light. Why the heck would I want to put myself through all that again? A closed system impedes development on that system and just makes everything so much harder than it needs to be, I know that now. So if you’re only argument for running PHP on Windows is that it’s possible to do so, then I will rightly laugh the idea and then ignore you.

  8. Hi Gerry,
    You, men and a bunch of other folks probably aren’t interested in running Windows servers and there’s not much they can do about that in the near term. As I said, I’m not even considering moving to a Windows server or even deploying one for testing on the Internet. However, there are companies that have a huge investment in Windows infrastructure. Thanks to the efforts of Zend and Microsoft, PHP now runs well on Windows and these companies can start to explore PHP as a development language.

    This is important to the PHP community because if these companies start looking seriously *at* PHP, they will start looking seriously *for* PHP developers.

    Now, maybe you don’t want to work in an MS shop.; that’s ok, neither do I. However, there are 4.6 million PHP developers worldwide; I’m guessing there are some that would jump at the chance. Along the same vein, I have no interest in working for an IBM i5 shop. (or whatever the heck they call it this week, it changes names faster than Zend Platform) The fact that IBM and Zend worked hard to get PHP on i5 means that there are more opportunities than ever for PHP developers.

    So I don’t blame you if you don’t want to run Windows as a server platform, it’s not what you need. However, don’t begrudge those who do want to run it. It may be just what they need to get PHP introduced into their shop.

    Thanks for the comment!

  9. I write a Template Engine by PHP call TagFeather. and, run it in Linux+Apache( DreamHost ).
    It Crash!
    But In My local develop machine as Windows XP + Apache , It Work.

    it’s Windows is more better ? Not , I run it in other VirtualHost as Linux +Apache . It work well, just cost less than 1 second . and in My local machine it use more than 10second , as profile 20 second with xdebug !

    Why? the answer is my program use greates of Regular Expressions , so DreamHost found it cost too more CPU and stop my program. Windows not stop it but run it cost more time compare with Linux .

    who want to know the detail can write to my gmail. and Tagfeather is a good work hosted in google code but sorry just has Chinese document.

  10. It would be interesting to see who choose linux for stability rather than performance. Stability and performance are two different topics…..

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