Microsoft and Zend juice PHP for Windows

Apache challenge?

Windows Vista teaser

Zend PHP 07 Zend Technologies, the industry's PHP steward, today delivers the first fruits of its collaboration with Microsoft while expanding the companies' relationship.

The open source scripting specialist will open its PHP Conference and Expo today announcing the release of FastCGI for Microsoft's IIS in Windows Server 2003 and the forthcoming Window Server 2008. Changes to boost PHP on Windows have been contributed back to the community, Zend told The Register.

FastCGI is an alternative to the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) and follows work by Zend in turning the PHP engine to boost the performance on Windows servers of web applications written using PHP. In the past, Microsoft has claimed a performance boost for PHP of up to 20 per cent using FastCGI.

FastCGI isn't for ordinary mortals. It's being released under a Microsoft Go Live license that the company frequently uses to put green technology into the hands of early developers, before it's finished, and that permits use in a run-time rather than a purely development setting - but without the safety net of support from Microsoft if things go wrong.

Microsoft will hope that tuning PHP for Windows will help staunch the flow of PHP developers away from Windows. Eighty per cent of those who build PHP applications on Windows deploy their software on "other" platforms.

Core baby, that's really free

In another nod towards both Microsoft's ambitions as a web developer and server platform and the ubiquity of Windows, Zend is to be one of first industry vendors to certify to Microsoft's Windows Server Core.

Specifically, Zend will certify Zend Core - its PHP distribution - to the Windows Server Core versions of Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 that can be stripped down for specific deployment scenarios, minus elements such as the GUI.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the IIS Windows Server Core that it hopes can continue IIS's work as an alternative web server to Apache. Microsoft hopes that, stripped of features superfluous to web serving, Windows Server Core will improve administration and make IIS less of an appealing target for hackers by removing unwanted features that traditionally serve as a back door.

It's not clear from Zend if it plans to certify for all Windows Server Cores or just the IIS Windows Server Core.

In a further expansion of the companies' relationship, Zend will announce support for PHP running on Microsoft's SQL Server database. Zend is expected deliver a version of its Zend Core certified PHP distribution and framework for SQL Server, following in the footsteps of similar products for Oracle, DB2 and MySQL.

Microsoft, meanwhile, will contribute code for its CardSpace (here) and (here) web services sign-one and identity management system to the Zend Framework launched in July by Zend.

The framework provides (yet another) environment for scripting web-based applications and interfaces, and - with two million downloads - has already receive support from Google and IBM. An early named customer is Right Media, which is building a portal for advertisers and subscribers using its online ads service.

Andi Gutmans, Zend co-founder and co-chief technology officer, told El Reg Microsoft is contributing identity management code to help establish its presence in the open source community and online security market. "Microsoft wants to establish a leadership position in the emerging identity market... this enables them to build a leadership position in the web space," he said.

That follows the failure of Microsoft's earlier Passport sign-in system to gain traction outside the company's immediate pool of partners.®

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