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,