Entry-level/mid-range server for Windows 9x/NT platforms

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jun 5, 2002


Microsoft's Personal Web Server (PWS) is a scaled-down version of the commercial Information Internet Server (IIS) included with the Server edition of Microsoft Windows NT. Designed for Windows 95 and Windows NT Workstation users, PWS is a great entry-level Web server that makes it easy to publish personal home pages, serve small Web sites, and share documents via a local intranet. One key advantage to using PWS over IIS and similar high-end Web servers is the client's ease of use. PWS is one of the best servers available for helping to get you up and running quickly. Wizards are included to guide you through the process of setting up home pages and sharing files, and the PWS administrator reduces the complexity of actually running the Web server itself. You can also use the familiar Explorer interface or PWS's Personal Web Manager to share directories, start and stop the server, and view Web site statistics.

One of the best uses for PWS is as a platform for testing out Web sites on your Windows 95/Windows NT Workstation computers before hosting them on the Internet. This allows you to check the validity of links, scripts, and applications as well as to ensure that the overall organization of the site is functioning correctly. Once the site is ready to go live you can either continue using PWS to serve your Web site or you can use Microsoft Front Page to copy the Web site developed on PWS over to IIS. PWS and IIS are packaged together as part of the freely downloadable Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack; Microsoft FrontPage is a commercial Web design client that must be purchased separately. Designed for Windows 95 and Windows NT Workstation users, PWS is a great entry-level Web server that makes it easy to publish personal home pages, serve small Web sites, and share documents via a local intranet.

While PWS does lack some of the more advanced features found in IIS (most notably the Index Server, Certificate Server, and Microsoft Site Server Express tools), the server does include support for Active Server Pages (ASP), script debugging, and many other important features found in its commercial sibling. One of these is the Internet Service Manager, a comprehensive administration tool used in IIS as part of the Microsoft Management Console. Additionally, PWS presents the ability to develop transactional Web applications using the Microsoft Transaction Server. Overall, while most large enterprises will likely bypass Microsoft's Personal Web Server for the high-end Internet Information Server, PWS will remain one of best available options for individuals wanting to serve their own personal home pages and for small organizations needing to host their own Web sites.

Security Patch Notes: On March 29th, Microsoft released a security patch that fixes the Microsoft PWS "Microsoft File Access" Vulnerability which could allow files on the server to be read by an unauthorized user who knew the name of the file and requested it via a specific non-standard URL. This issue only applies to users running PWS on Windows 95/98; NT users do not need to download the patch.

Pros: 7 Price (freeware), 7 Easy to setup and use, 7 Active Server Page (ASP) support, 7 Excellent for serving small Web sites and personal home pages, 7 Includes many of the same features found in IIS

Cons: 7 No UNIX version, 7 Lacks some of the more advanced features included with IIS, 7 Only runs on Windows 95/Windows NT Workstation, 7 Slower than IIS

New: Wizard for creating home pages, performance enhancements; Release notes
Upgrade Meter: 4

Version Reviewed: 4.0
Date of Review: 3/29/99
Reviewed by: Forrest Stroud
Additional Information available
WebServer Compare's
Review of Microsoft PWS


Technical Support Information: Specific online support for IIS/PWS is available from the Microsoft IIS Web site. Additional support is available from Microsoft's Technical Support site and several Online Support Newsgroups.

Operating Systems Supported: Windows 95. Windows NT Workstation

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