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NT Enterprise
NT Newstrends
Web Server Wars

-- by Tom Henderson

The Web server showdown between Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) and Netscape Enterprise Server (NES) continues. After Microsoft quietly began testing an upgrade to IIS 3.0, code-named K2, Netscape Communications countered by posting a beta release of NES 3.0 on its Web site.

Microsoft's K2 release, expected to be named IIS 4.0, is slated for delivery this fall. Microsoft is coy about K2's feature set, revealing only that it will support enhanced Web application development and content management, improved monitoring, and easier configuration. Meanwhile, Netscape's forthcoming NES 3.0 will support the HTTP 1.1 protocol, CORBA object standard, LDAP directory services and server clustering. NES 3.0 will also strongly adhere to the world of Java and JavaScript, with support for Visual Basic and ActiveX components via WinCGI interfaces. As of now, the IIS 3.0 release, by contrast, relies heavily on ActiveX.

Netscape's cross-platform commitment is impressive, but the real battle is in the NT arena. More than 60 percent of new intranets use NT Server as the underlying OS, according to market researcher International Data Corp.

K2 (free for NT Server 4.0 customers) will certainly cost less than NES (about $1,000 per server), but it's difficult to compare the products directly since neither is shipping. However, you can download a free copy of the current IIS 3.0 release (http://www.microsoft.com/iis/default.asp) and NES 3.0 beta (http://www.netscape.com/comprod/mirror/server_download.html) from Microsoft's and Netscape's sites.

Naturally, Microsoft wants IIS 3.0-and later, K2-to be a de facto Web server standard for NT. Already, IIS 3.0 supports Active Server Pages (ASPs), a programming platform that competes with NES 3.0's Internet Inter-ORB (object request broker) protocol and traditional CGI interfaces. ASPs are browser-neutral and separate background programming from HTML presentation. That is, the content can change without recoding its presentation.

Whether you choose IIS or NES, you won't be deploying dead-end technol-ogy. NES is part of Netscape's SuiteSpot product family, which sold a million units last year. At press time, IIS 3.0 had been downloaded from Microsoft's Web site more than 160,000 times.

Windows Magazine, June 1997, page NT06.

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