PHP: a silent killer

PHP is now running over a million web sites and with good reason. PHP is open source, it runs equally well on NT and UNIX, it’s well documented. PHP is no doubt stealing market share from Microsoft’s Active Server Pages, but the media has been unusually quiet about the issue. Even as Apache’s success has become front page news, PHP has gone largely unnoticed. Maybe Microsoft wants to keep it that way.

Republished from osOpinion under the Open Publication Licence.

PHP is now running over a million web sites and with good reason. PHP is open source, it runs equally well on NT and UNIX, it’s well documented. PHP is no doubt stealing market share from Microsoft’s Active Server Pages, but the media has been unusually quiet about the issue. Even as Apache’s success has become front page news, PHP has gone largely unnoticed. Maybe Microsoft wants to keep it that way.

Microsoft is very public with it’s worries about Linux and Apache, but it has yet to say a word about PHP. This is somewhat surprising given the capabilities and market share of PHP. With it’s ability to run on NT and UNIX, PHP makes it easy to build complex web sites which can run on either platform. This would be quite a boon to IS geeks encouraging a move away from NT. In the past, porting the CGI code or converting ASP to Perl made a change of server OS a painful proposition. With PHP, the move is painless for everyone except MS. In fact, there are now free tools to convert ASP to PHP. This has to raise Microsoft’s ire.

Of course, the OS independence isn’t really what’s driving PHP development. Developers much prefer PHP over ASP for it’s simple and elegant syntax, object support, and excellent documentation. Working with ASP is a nightmare. MS wants money to answer the most basic of questions. Furthermore, in true MS style, ASP omits support for features which may intrude on the turf of other MS products.

With MS starting to launch major FUD campaigns against Linux and *BSD, I suspect it will only be a matter of time before MS addresses PHP as a serious threat. It will be interesting to see how MS chooses to attack PHP as it has so few weaknesses. MS can’t buy PHP nor can it easily “embrace and extend” PHP because it already has a competing product in ASP. FUD is the only weapon left and that’s not going to terribly effective with knowledgeable developers. Who knows, the empire may fall without the need for government intervention.

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