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Zend Technologies is turning to the application server, database and hosting worlds as future areas for improved performance of PHP running on Windows.

Zend plans to fine tune and certify its PHP application server, Zend Platform, for Windows in the second or third quarter, to improve performance and monitoring in areas like root-cause analysis and interoperability with Windows resources.

The company, which ships a certified version of PHP called Zend Core, would also like to make a PHP extension for Microsoft's SQL Server database available with Zend Core. The SQL Server extension for PHP is currently available in a second revision from Microsoft's web site.

Further out is a possible package combining Zend's technologies and Windows for web-site hosting, according to Zend.

The changes mark the latest steps in Zend's relationship with Microsoft to smooth the performance and management of PHP on Windows.

Zend is today due to release Zend Core for Windows Server 2008. Previously, the companies juiced up performance of PHP and Windows Server 2003 through a FastCGI bridge for Internet Information Services (IIS), improving IIS's appeal as a web server for developers using Zend's certified and supported version of PHP.

Improvements are designed to help staunch the flow of developers building web applications using PHP away from Windows and towards the combined Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) stack.

Andi Gutmans, Zend chief technology officer and co-founder, told Reg Developer he believes Windows has a "unique proposition" for shared hosting and "in many cases works better than Unix". With the changes announced today, PHP in Windows is now "pretty good" with "performance pretty close to being on par with Unix systems" Gutmans said.

According to Gutmans, future interoperability between its PHP application server would give users building web applications who don't want to use IIS the confidence that Zend Core behaves as it should and Zend is "not using APIs we shouldn't." "It will give customers the confidence the package will play nicely in the Windows environment with the permissions." Gutmans said.

On SQL Server the companies have been working on performance encoding, multi-language support and stored procedures. Gutmans said the SQL Server extension for PHP "would be one of the things we want to bundle in Zend Core and make available out of the box" although he did not give a date when this would happen.®

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