Microsoft Working on IIS 'Express' Web Server

More about IIS Web server

Developers may have an easier time building websites with a streamlined offering that combines the best features of IIS 7.x and ASP.NET Developer Server.

Microsoft is readying a new version of its Internet Web server that the company says will simplify building and testing websites for corporate developers.

Dubbed Internet Information Services (IIS) Express, the new version aims to combine many of the best features of both IIS 7.x -- Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) full-production Web server that is built into Windows -- and Visual Studio's (VS) ASP.NET Developer Server.

"Today, I'm happy to announce a new, free option that we are enabling -- IIS Express -- that combines the best characteristics of both, and which will make it easier to build and run ASP.NET sites and applications," Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET developer platform, said in a post Monday to his personal blog.

"IIS Express will work with VS 2010 and Visual Web Developer 2010 Express, will run on Windows XP and higher systems, does not require an administrator account, and does not require any code changes to use," Guthrie added. "You will be able to take advantage of it with all types of ASP.NET applications, and it enables you to develop using a full IIS 7.x feature-set."

The ASP.NET Developer Server has the benefits of being relatively fast, and likewise doesn't require an administrator's account to run.

The downside, however, is that IIS Express doesn't support the full set of IIS 7.x features, such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) URL rewrite rules -- both particularly important when corporate developers are building public-facing websites.

Standard IIS supports a full production server for development and testing. However, it requires an administrator's account and IIS versions differ with each Windows version. For example, if the developer is running on Windows XP, the version of IIS that came with that system, IIS 5.1, is the one the developer has to use. Unfortunately, IIS 5.1 lacks some features that come in IIS 7.x, Guthrie said.

The solution, as a result, was to create a hybrid development environment that takes advantage of the benefits of both.

For instance, like the ASP.NET Developer Server, IIS Express will be lightweight -- less than a 10 MB download -- and quick to run, the company claims. It also doesn't require an administrator's account -- and it provides "a full IIS 7.x developer feature-set on all OS platforms," Guthrie's post said.

"We think IIS Express makes it even easier to build, run and test Web applications. It works with all versions of ASP.NET and supports all ASP.NET application types ... Best of all, you do not need to change any code to take advantage of it," he added.

Microsoft also plans to release a patch later in the year for VS 2010 and Visual Web Developer 2010 Express that will let developers launch IIS Express in place of VS's ASP.NET Developer Server.

Guthrie did not say when beta testing of IIS Express will begin, other than to say it would commence "shortly."

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

This article was originally published on Jun 30, 2010
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