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In an attempt to promote the Windows operating system as a deployment target as well as a development environment, Zend and Microsoft have partnered together to include Windows-specific performance enhancements in the release of Zend Core 2.0.Zend Core 2.0 is a full-on PHP environment that includes the latest version of the PHP scripting language (5.2.1) along with a number of enhancements and extensions. PHP, which powers the popular blogging platforms Movable Type and Wordpress along with a myriad of database-backed websites across the internet, has gained popularity in recent years due to ease of use and a lack of overhead. However, users indicate that while the majority of PHP development occurred on Windows desktop machines, the majority of PHP deployments occur on Linux servers. The main reason for this disparity is the fact that PHP simply does not run as fast on Windows as it does in a Linux environment. Never one to play second fiddle to Linux, Microsoft recognized this shortcoming and has partnered with Zend to develop a solution. The result of this partnership is a high performance implementation of FastCGI, called Zend Enabler, for Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS). IIS is second only to Apache in the number of deployed web server installations. The results have been nothing short of incredible with Zend reporting performance improvements in the realm of 200% to 300%. While it seems natural to keep this technology under lock and key (also known as the right price), Microsoft and Zend have instead opted to make these improvements available to the open source development community as part of PHP version 5.2.1. But wait, there's more. Along with these performance improvements, Zend Core 2.0 includes the following new features:
  • Version 0.8 of the highly successful PHP MVC Framework
  • MySQL 5.0 Community Edition bundled for simplified installation and improved performance
  • Universal Database Support including drivers for database from IBM, Oracle, and MySQL
  • Max OS X Support
Like all benchmarks, these performance enhancements should be taken with a grain of salt. Yet PHP, once considered the programming language of newbies and wannabe computer scientists, continues to build momentum and seems poised to challenge web application development stalwarts Java and .Net. If curiosity is killing you, get started with Zend Core 2.0 here.