IIS 7.0 Learns a Few Tricks from Apache

Microsoft senior vice president Bob Muglia took the PDC 2005 stage Thursday morning to discuss the future of Windows Server. In addition to announcing Compute Cluster Edition Beta 1 and the first Longhorn Server CTP, Muglia introduced IIS 7.0 - complete with a modular architecture.

"We've learned from Apache," acknowledged Bill Staples, product unit manager for IIS. Version 7.0 takes the IIS feature set and breaks it down into individual components, or modules, that can be loaded on an as-needed basis. The result is a Web server with much less overhead.

Modules can also be swapped on the fly. Staples provided a live demo of changing the standard directory listing into a flashy gallery by simply replacing a single module and refreshing the Web page.

The popular open source Apache Web server takes a similar approach to features. Administrators can add in modules they need and disable the ones they don't - streamlining a system for the fastest performance possible. IIS has taken another page from Apache's playbook as well: simple configuration.

IIS 7.0 does away with complicated the "Metabase" and replaces it with XML configuration files - an announcement that prompted cheers from the PDC audience.

The config file can be manually edited for site-wide changes, but each Web application can have its own XML config as well. Changes take place in almost real-time, without restarting the server, Staples said.

ASP.NET has additionally been given a boost in the update. No longer requiring a plug-in as it did with previous IIS releases, ASP.NET is natively supported in version 7.0.

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