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Apache under Windows
Some folks use Windows because they just love it. Many of us use it because we have to -- either there is some application that we have to run that only works on Windows, or we work for a company that requires that we run Windows. But the web server that comes with Windows NT, the Microsoft Internet Information Server, leaves much to be desired. And other servers available for NT are expensive, and don't offer anything extra that IIS does not.
Running Apache is a perfect solution for NT users. For those of us that are already familiar with Apache, there's nothing new to learn. For those of us that are in a multi-platform environment, we can run the same server on all of our servers, and have very few changes if we need to move something from one server to another. For those that are not yet familiar with Apache, there is very little that has to be learned to get started.
And, for users that like all of the ''conveniences'' of Windows, Apache has many of those as well -- it has a handy Install Shield installation package, and runs as an NT service. And, with Daniel Lopez's wonderful Comanche package, you can even configure it from a GUI.
I admit, I pretty much stopped using IIS after version 3. I have not tried version 4 or 5 or whatever they are on now. I am perfectly willing to accept that all of my reservations about IIS have been addressed in the latest version. I've already been thoroughly flamed for my comments in this paper, since presenting it in Orlando in March. You should take this as a ''how to'' for Apache, and not as an argument against using IIS, since that's not what I had in mind.
Before Apache was available on Windows, you had basically two choices. You could use IIS, which was pretty pathetic, especially in those days. Or you could use Netscape server. The Netscape servers were pretty good, because the folks that were working on them (some of them at least) were the same folks that worked on the NSCA server. But as they made the servers fancier and fancier, they become harder and harder to configure and use.
Finally, in October of 1997 (see http://www.apacheweek.com/issues/97-10-17#13b2) Apache 1.3 came out, with support for Windows NT and Windows 95. And there was much rejoicing. I started running Apache on my NT machines about 2 days after that.
The Apache documentation contains the following warning:
Windows support is entirely experimental, and is recommended only for
This is quickly followed by:
Apache on NT has not yet been optimized for performance. Apache still
performs best, and is most reliable on Unix platforms.
And one can certainly not argue with those assertions. I'd take Apache on my Linux machines over Apache on NT any day. However, the reasonable thing to compare it to is not Apache on Unix, but IIS on NT, since that is really what the choice is.
Since late in 1997, when I started running Apache on NT, I've had a sneaking feeling that Apache was outperforming IIS, but I did not have any real evidence of this. And everything that I read about this seemed to say that I was way off base, and that IIS was much faster.
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