Microsoft Windows Hosting vs. Open-source
Everybody knows Microsoft for its famous Windows operating system, a successful product line that has become a household name around the world. Not only is Windows installed in homes, but also in the offices of small, medium, and large enterprises, as well as an increasing number of web hosting data centers. Windows and other Microsoft products are now common in the network environment, forming the core for the hundreds of thousands of servers that help power the web. Ironically, the software innovator isn’t necessarily the dominant force in this industry because Microsoft has its hands full with the open-source market.
Web Server Platforms
There are many different components that distinguish Windows hosting from open-source variations powered systems such as the Linux platform. The major difference between the two lies in the web server applications. Windows was made to function with IIS (Internet Information Services) and Linux is typically coupled with Apache. In terms of functionality, both servers are equal in their efficiency at serving basic web pages. Like several Microsoft products, IIS offers a user-friendly environment although Apache supports a number of GUIs (graphical user interfaces) that make the software easier to work with. Windows hosting often gets a bad rep for vulnerabilities found in the IIS application but since the initial release, Apache 2.0 has proven to be just as susceptible to the array of emerging threats. When it comes to operating systems themselves, both Windows and Linux can be configured to provide fortress-like security.
The web servers involved in Windows and Linux hosting solutions are optimized to run specific programming environments. In the LAMP configuration, the most common variations of a Linux-based server are open-source languages such as PHP, Perl and Python. The IIS web server is designed to run ASP and ASP.NET, server-side technologies created by Microsoft. Although PHP is regarded as the most widely used programming tool, ASP (Active Server Pages) is becoming increasingly popular and is currently a preferred choice in the corporate setting. Windows has the upper-hand in this regard as IIS server is capable of handling ASP and other Microsoft languages as well PHP, Perl and virtually any programming technology compatible with the Linux system. Apache however, can only run Active Server Pages via special emulators which may or may not provide the full functionality of ASP.
Windows hosting squares off against the open-source market in various areas, including multimedia applications. Web 2.0 has led to the soaring popularity of audio and video streaming, a trend that has resulted in many hosting packages geared to meet the demands. Linux plans typically get the benefit of open-source environments such as Adobe Flex, an amazing cross-platform framework that enables the creation of feature-rich web applications. Microsoft has countered this product with an amazing plugin known as Silverlight. Though still behind in popularity to Flash, Adobe’s industry leading product, Silverlight is gaining ground quickly and even has a few open-source distributions available for free.
Open-source vs. proprietary will forever be a debate in the hosting world and the Microsoft driven platform will always play the latter. Although Linux and other Unix-like systems were made to perform in such demanding environments, the functionality and exclusivity of Microsoft brands such as Exchange and SharePoint give Windows an advantage that simply can’t be matched.
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