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Microsoft's LAMP answer arrives in pieces

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Last summer, Microsoft said that February 27, 2008 would be the single biggest day of releases in its 30-year history, promising major updates to its server operating system, developer tools and database.

After some fancy work fine-tuning PHP, MySQL and other open source code to Windows, Microsoft should have been ready to spark the interest of developers Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) and actually tempt them back to the Windows platform. But the company seems intent on both improving the lot of developers working with parts of LAMP and Windows and prying them away from LAMP wherever possible.

As February 27 dawned, and the mighty - from Go Daddy to Verizon - dutifully gathered to deliver well-scripted endorsements, it became clear that the only big dog barking at this launch was the PR. Microsoft hosted a glitzy global launch introduced by NBC grey hair news anchor Tom Brokaw, complete with streaming video using Microsoft's Silverlight to demonstrate the fledgling, cross-browser plug.

Spin over, we got the facts: retail availability of Visual Studio 2008, which has been available to MSDN subscribers since November, and an incomplete version of the successor to Windows Server 2003 R2: Windows Sever 2008, shipping with a beta version of its Hyper-V virtualization software. Hyper-V is expected in the next few months.

The update to Microsoft's popular SQL Server 2005 database - SQL Server 2008 - was present in name only, with availability postponed until at least the third quarter of 2008. This is just the latest delay to afflict Microsoft's database.

Invariably, when scrambling for something to announce, companies will dust off the benchmarks. On this particular occasion, Microsoft targeted server rivals IBM and Red Hat to claim superior performance.

Microsoft claimed that Windows Server 2008 with .NET Framework 3.5, underpinning Visual Studio 2008, delivers faster throughput than IBM's WebSphere running on Red Hat Linux, according to benchmarks from IBM and Sun Microsystems. Microsoft claimed 117 per cent and 94 per cent improved throughput, respectively, running a sample application.

Microsoft's faltering attempt to counter LAMP came, ironically, as it emerged that the company is courting another component in the open source acronym stack. Members of Apache visited the Microsoft campus with a view to improving Tomcat's support for Internet Information Services (IIS). Previously, Microsoft has entertained MySQL and Zend and worked with Novell.®

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