Microsoft & Zend announced a multi-year agreement aimed at improving the performance of PHP on Microsoft web server, Internet Information Server (IIS). Historically, PHP has performed substantially better on the Apache web server than on IIS. Early results from the joint work indicate 100-150% performance improves in certain cases. This could indicate great work, or just how terrible performance was before.

PHP has long been a competitor to ASP, so while some say this is a great example of how to work with OSS companies, I suggest that this is likely step 1 along a path that will see Microsoft implement a PHP runtime into the .NET CLR (as they have done with Python) and either compete with or acquire Zend (the latter wouldn’t be easy at all). I’ve said it before during some IBM work: “Every PHP developer out there today is a VB developer that Microsoft lost” (sure developers use multiple languages; but the fact that they’re using PHP for a given application instead of VB has to be worrisome).

Microsoft could live with a VB developer leaving VB for PHP, as long as it’s PHP on .NET. Hence, I’m not sure this deal is great for the PHP community or PHP developers in general.  It is however good for Zend because it means another large IT that could become a suitor in the future (and hence a bidding war – sorry, I have real estate on my mind).