Apache and IIS: The Kings of Web Servers

Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Services) and Apache have been the dominant force in the server industry.  Although Apache is the most widely installed, the IIS server application is more prevalent on the enterprise market, similar to many other Microsoft products.  Both programs are solid choices, but each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.


The original Apache web server is based upon HTTP code largely credited for revolutionizing the entire World Wide Web.  As an open-source software product, the earlier days saw it being used to mainly work with Unix and Unix-like platforms, even though it could be tweaked to work within the Windows environment.  Apache 2.0 was released in 2002, offering an updated execution environment which divided its core functionality from the part of the system that processed and support requests.  This version also presented efficient support for a wider range of platforms, including Unix, Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.


Since Windows NT 4.0 launched, Microsoft IIS has been available as an optional feature on Windows Server operating systems.  At the time, IIS 3.0, was a basic application and didn’t really get its push as a true platform until IIS 4.0.   The Microsoft server took off with the release of Windows Server 2003 and IIS 6.0, which was far more superior to previous editions.  With the recent release of Windows Server 2008, IIS 7.0 was introduced, unleashing power and performance that would make it one of the most effective web servers on the market.

Major Differences

The fundamental differences between Apache and IIS mainly lie in the associated dynamic components.  Apache integrates with open-source technologies, such as Perl and Python, while IIS was specifically designed for Microsoft’s Active Server Pages and the wide range of languages it supports.  Because these servers essentially aim to meet the same goals, the best way to base your decision is on the components and applications they support.