MSDN Flash - What is in Windows Server for developers?

The last editorial I wrote about Visual Studio 2008's multi-targeting support, however as the Launch coming in February is about Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 I thought I might shed some light on what is coming in Windows Server for developers too.  Specifically I want to focus on Web Developers and Internet Information Services 7.

One of the things you may already know about is that the configuration for IIS has been moved from the Metabase to a XML config file called ApplicationHost.config.  This means that if you want to modify the config of a server, you just open the file in (say) notepad, edit it and close it again.  You can also then copy this file across servers to ensure they all have the same configuration - which is great for web farms.

Given the file is in XML, you can easily write scripts and code to read or modify the server configuration based on some environmental dependencies your application or script may detect as it runs.

Of course, should you want to do this with the manager you can still do this, but having a file instead of the Metabase gives you much easier access to the config of the server(s) in your environment.  For more details on this change and the implications, take a look at this overview of the ApplicationHost.config and these articles (1, 2) on compatibility with the metabase.

Another thing you can do is write your own extensions to IIS7.  One example that you can take a look through online is replacing the Basic HTTP Authentication module with one that authenticates against an arbitrary authentication systems (such as ASP.Net Membership provider).  Another scenario you could write a module to do things like remove hidden text or comments from an Open XML document being uploaded to a server.  You'll have ideas for modules that might make sense to your solution, but the point is that this is a pretty cool feature that should allow you to make IIS7 do more than it does today - in fact I expect there will be a community  around module development. 

Modules can be written in either native code or in managed code by implementing the new System.Web.IHttpModule interface.  You can get a walk through on how to build a module here.  You can also build administration modules to manage your custom module, details here.

We've also done a lot of work on FastCGI to make PHP (and other languages) really fly under IIS7.

If you are interested in these features (and there are lots more), check out the IIS7 Developer Center or download beta 3 of Windows Server 2008.  If you want to deploy IIS7 sooner rather than later, there is a go live license for IIS7 and we have customers in NZ already who are running IIS7 for production sites.  In addition is already running on Windows Server 2008.  Let me know if you get into this stuff.

As previously reported, we are running a Women in Technology dinner at Tech Ed for the first time this year.  I've had quite a bit of feedback to open this up to people not going to Tech Ed, and I'm pleased to be able to say that, we've responded to this feedback and opened it up. 

So - if you are going to Tech Ed, simply put the Women in Technology session into your agenda.  If you are not going to Tech Ed, but want to go along, you will need to register by either sending an email to or by calling (09) 309 2440.  Tickets cost $80, Tech Ed attendees are free.  It should be a great event with representation from both technical and non technical women in technology.  I'll blog more details in the next few days and more details will also go up on the Tech Ed website this week.

Finally, if you are looking at Silverlight (and it seems everyone is), we are close to RC and there are breaking changes from the Beta - check out the details and download a preview from Tim Sneath's blog.

Anyway, that is enough for one flash - have fun coding!