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Microsoft Unleashes Tool For Web Developers

In its latest bid to keep Web developers in the fold, Microsoft has developed a tool designed to manage the setup, configuration and retrieval of different Web applications.

Microsoft Wednesday released the first beta of what it calls Web App Installer, dubbed Web AI. The free tool provides a single way for Web developers to gather ASP.NET and PHP-based open source Web apps. The initial beta consists of a suite of Web applications that include Drupal, DotNetNuke, Graffiti, Gallery, OS Commerce, Wordpress and PHPBB.

The tool for Web developers comes just two weeks after Microsoft launched Web Platform Installer, or Web PI, software that provides one-stop installation and automatic updates of Microsoft's complete Web platform including IIS7, Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition, SQL Server 2008 Express Edition and the .NET Framework.

Web AI automates the downloading, installation and configuration of the various community .NET and PHP applications, in a simplified process for Web developers, said Lauren Cooney, group product manager for Microsoft's Web platform and standards. The installer handles various details, such as checking systems for the needed prerequisites and configuring IIS 7 to run those Web apps.

"We're focused here on the community and what our customers are asking for," Cooney said. "This is a big step in the right direction for Microsoft becoming more open to using PHP on top of the Microsoft Web platform."

Cooney said it's too early to say what the plans are beyond the initial beta release of Web AI, though she envisions more apps added, perhaps another half-dozen over the next six months. Microsoft is also looking at how it might be tied to other products.

"We're meeting with different product groups within the company and determining if they have software that's relevant for Web developers," she said. "For example, I met with the SharePoint team today which has a good product out there, [to see if] we might be able to include in this platform. The key here is that one, it's relevant for Web, and two it's free. We're not trying to up sell anyone or anything like that."

Web AI requires Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 and can only be used by those with administrative privileges. It also requires .NET Framework 2.0 or higher. The beta is available for download here. Microsoft has also launched a portal site for all of its Web efforts at http://www.microsoft.com/web.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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