Microsoft has launched a new tool out called the Web Applications Installer. This is a refined program that does the same functionality as scripts like Fantastico. Basically, you chose what web software you want to install… and the app will configure your Windows Server to run it.
So, if you want to install WordPress on your new $199 Windows Server box, it now only takes a few clicks.
Why is this important? One, it’s from Microsoft. Two, it’s on Windows Server. Both are important… for different reasons.
Windows Server has started to lose favor with the Web 2.0 generation. While IIS is preferred for in-house apps, the open source community has actually found it more difficult to use than LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL & PHP). This, of course, is because a standard Linux distribution comes with all four… whereas with Windows Server, you have to install MySQL, configure MySQL, install PHP, and finally, configure PHP. If that sounds daunting, it is. I’ve had to do it.
So, Microsoft has made this process painless. Great. But, more importantly, Microsoft is doing it themselves. They’re embracing web apps, and making it easier to setup than Linux. This is something they need to do, to woo over dot-com startups… like MechaWorks.
I’ll tell you, I’m really excited about this. If the tool is robust enough, it may allow us to bring web hosting duties in-house. That would save us thousands of dollars per year.
Also, it will enable consumers to run web apps out of their house. You can bet that this will be in both consumer versions of Windows 7, and the next release of Windows Home Server. Plus, you can use it today on XP Pro, Vista, etc… all you need is IIS, and premium versions of Windows have had that sitting around for years. Until today, it wasn’t good for much… that’s about to change.
Is this the silver bullet to fix Windows Server? Probably not in the first release, but if these kind of no-brainer setup protocols are in place, and backed up with no-brainer maintenance protocols… I think Windows Server may be ready for a comeback. And yeah, it does feel wierd to say that… but it doesn’t feel bad either.
One big downside: The tool requires Windows Server 2008 or Vista SP1. That means Windows Home Server users are out of luck as of right now (Home Server v1 is based on Windows Server 2003 SBS).