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Microsoft Tunes Windows Server Line For Application Hosting

Microsoft needs a stronger foothold in the market for software delivered as an Internet service. So the company is tuning Longhorn Server and future versions of its database software, development tools, and run-time environment to better support hosted applications.

Muglia has a Longhorn beta release up his sleeve.

Muglia has a Longhorn beta release up his sleeve.

The moves come as Microsoft tries to convince Web companies to choose Windows over Linux and as Google opens its computing infrastructure to other companies. The engineering work is a result of CTO Ray Ozzie's mandate to get Microsoft's server products in better shape to run Web applications. Microsoft is expected next week to release a second beta version of Longhorn Server that could contain some of the changes.

"Ray's work influences our engineering in a substantive way," says Bob Muglia, who took over as senior VP of Microsoft's server and tools business last fall.

Longhorn Server, due next year, will contain improvements to Internet Information Services, the operating system's built-in Web server, that give system administrators finer control over what types of components, such as dynamic HTML, PHP, and Secure Sockets Layer, are served inside Web pages. Admins will be able to control what components run using scripting languages, which should help companies serving up Web apps better allocate processor resources and assign security measures to software. Longhorn Server and Windows Vista also will contain a new scripting language and command-line interface called PowerShell for quickly moving .Net workloads and Exchange mailboxes among groups of computers. Muglia calls PowerShell "critical to hosters."

The changes will help Windows Server catch up to functions already available in the open source Apache Web server, which runs on Linux. The combo has proven popular for hosting Web pages. "There's a reason why it's dominated--there are product advantages to Apache and Linux over Windows," Muglia admits.

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