Microsoft are going to launch new Visual Studio 2005 which will include a new set of tools called Visual Studio Express, with the intent to bring tools and technologies to compete directly in the small webserver space and complete with the open source LAMP technology stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP).
Problem is though, Microsoft still don’t get it. I don’t need to or want to buy their tool set which will lock me into a Micorosft IIS server and cost me x hundreds of dollars, running on an unreliable server platform (Windows) which again is going to cost be x hundreds of dollars (in the case of Windows Server), for the privilege of running a server open to numerous security exploitations and which needs to be rebooted every few days just to stay running. I already have a rich, wide choice of interoperable technologies, used and supported heavily by the user community, which I can run on any one of a number of Linux flavors, or even Windows should I so be inclined.
Micorosft have already missed the boat. I don’t believe they are going to catch up in the LAMP arena, they have already lost. Apache is still seeing an increasing number of servers out in the wild, whereas the number of IIS installations is still declining, as it has been the past few years. According to the Netcraft server surveys, Apache installations are now over 70% of the installed servers on the internet, whereas IIS is a dwindling 20%.
The only way Microsoft would be able to catch up would be if they played the same tactic as they did when they launched Internet Explorer against the then dominant browser, Netscape. Although back in the day you could download Netscape, although not many people did over a 14.4/28.8 modem, it was also available for sale in PC stores off the shelf. What did Microsoft do to gain market share? Give away IE for free.