When you purchase a Windows Web hosting plan, you are renting space for your Web site on a server that runs some version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system for servers. This is not the same operating system that runs on a Windows PC.
Because Windows is owned by Microsoft, your Web host must pay a licensing fee to use the operating system on its servers. That’s why a Windows plan may cost more than Linux plans each month.
Windows Server 2008
Microsoft’s latest version of its server operating system, called Windows Server 2008, was released on February 27, 2008. It brought significant improvements over its predecessor, Windows Server 2003. Among other things, Windows Server 2008 features:
- A Windows firewall and next-generation cryptography support
- IIS 7.0 Web server which enhances the system’s Web capabilities
- Support for ASP.NET, PHP, Perl, JMail, MSXML and MSADO
- Hosting for Microsoft SQL relational databases
Web hosts such as Hostway keep Microsoft-certified professionals on staff to manage Windows servers with this operating system. They can put many of the more advanced features to work for clients and address any issues that arise.
The Source Code
Windows Server is proprietary software, and Microsoft does not publish the source code. That means it cannot be modified by anyone except Microsoft.
Some people criticize the operating system for being less reliable because outside engineers cannot identify and fix problems with the source code. Everyone must wait for Microsoft security patches.
On the other side are people who love this operating system because it easily integrates with other Microsoft software.