RealTime IT News

Microsoft Opens PHP Door

PHP on Windows is no longer an oxymoron.

Microsoft is officially helping to fund a joint effort with PHP vendor Zend to ensure that PHP works well on Microsoft's server platforms.

"We're announcing a multi-year agreement to make sure that PHP is a first-class citizen on the Windows Server platform," Zend co-founder Andi Gutmans told internetnews.com. "PHP has never really run very well on Windows. It does run on Windows but it doesn't perform very well; there are a lot of reliability problems."

Among the technical improvements that Zend and Microsoft will be making is a FastCGI component of Microsoft's Internet Information Services (IIS). FastCGI for IIS is expected to be freely available from Microsoft and will act as the interface between IIS and PHP.

"In the past Zend has made its own FastCGI plug-in available for IIS," Gutmans noted." But Microsoft is taking this very seriously and they've decided to have their IIS team develop it on their own."

Zend will also work on improvements to PHP itself that will make it more reliable and improve performance on Windows Server platforms. Zend's improvements are expected to be contributed to the open source community under the PHP license.

Gutmans noted that Zend has already done an extensive amount of testing, profiling and benchmarking for PHP on Windows. As of today's announcement, Gutmans claimed that Zend has e already made 15 different improvements to the PHP code base itself to make it run better on Windows.

Among the changes are native Win32 API and COM support, as well as better Windows memory-management capabilities.

It's not just about one-time improvements to PHP on Windows, either. Zend and Microsoft are committing to working together over the long term to ensure performance and reliability.

To that end, Zend is setting up a Windows performance lab for testing to ensure that PHP continues to work well on Windows.

The effort to get PHP better supported on Windows, isn't an act of charity by Zend.

"This is a very serious partnership," Gutmans said. "Microsoft is going to be supporting this effort."

Zend isn't abandoning its open source roots to engage with Microsoft. The partnership deals with Microsoft's IIS Web Server, though Zend will still continue to work on supporting the open source Apache Web server on Windows, as well.

The partnership currently doesn't extend to supporting PHP on .NET, either. Currently there is a Microsoft effort, called Phalanger, to bring PHP to .NET.

Phalanger is a PHP language compiler for the .NET framework. It is available at the Microsoft CodePlex shared source code site.

"We are committed to a true open source PHP distribution," Gutmans said. "You'll never be able to make a .NET version of PHP 100 percent compatible and up-to-date with real open source PHP. It's like MONO chasing .NET; it never manages to catch up completely."

Microsoft itself in the past has admitted that PHP doesn't work as well on Windows as it does on Linux. It's a sentiment echoed by Gutmans.

"I can tell you for sure why Microsoft is investing heavily in this relationship is that there were serious performance issues for PHP on Microsoft it wasn't just a perception issue," Gutmans said.

"The changes that we've made now, including the FastCGI component, we get around two times performance improvement and in some applications a much as three times. We are removing a very serious technology barrier with this engagement."