Microsoft and Zend Pact to Improve PHP

In an unusual move, software giant Microsoft has entered into a multi-year, multi-phase agreement with open source software developer Zend Technologies to ensure that the popular Web development language PHP runs as well under Windows as it does on Linux and other platforms.

The move is a rare bow to the open source community from Microsoft, which has historically argued traditional, commercial software offers greater reliability, support, and security than open source solutions. However, don’t think the agreement is about Microsoft embracing open source: it’s all about keeping Microsoft competitive in the server marketplace. Right now, Web developers who want to deploy solutions built using PHP—including ever-more sophisticated database, Web publishing, customer management, and inventory tools—have to consider moving away from Microsoft’s server platforms and onto Linux for best results. The new pact with Zend aims to improve Windows as a platform for PHP—and give those customers one more reason to stick with Windows.

“Interoperability continues to be an important requirement for our customers, particularly when it comes to open source applications that run on Windows. This announcement today continues our commitment to making it easier for partners and developers—regardless of the development model they employ—to take advantage of increased reliability of the Microsoft Windows Server platform,” said Bill Hilf, Microsoft’s general manager of Technical Platform Strategy.

“With a majority of PHP developers developing on the Windows platform, we saw a great opportunity to work together with Microsoft to improve the overall experience for our joint customers,” said Andi Gutmans, Zend’s co-founder and chief technology officer. “Since our preliminary work with Microsoft, we have already seen a better than 100 percent performance gain with some PHP applications on Windows Server 2003.”

Under the agreement, in the first quarter of 2007 Microsoft and Zend will begin contributing PHP improvements to the PHP community under the PHP license. Microsoft will also develop a FastCGI add-on for its IIS Internet server to act as a high performance interface between PHP and IIS (FastCGI will be free and available for Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows Server “Longhorn”) as well as work with Zend to ensure a production-quality runtime environment for PHP under IIS 5.1 (Windows XP), IIS 6.0 (Windows Server 2003), and IIS 7.0 (Windows Vista and Windows Server “Longhorn.”)