Microsoft Launches Open Source Web App Installer

By Josh Catone
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A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft released their Web Platform Installer (Web PI), a free downloadable application that installs and configures their entire web platform stack. The application installs the latest versions of the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, IIS7.0 and Extensions, IIS FastCGI, Visual Web Developer 2008, SQL Server 2008 Express, SQL Server Management Studio, ASP.NET MVC and Silverlight Tools. The idea is that the Web PI makes it easier for for developers to install the entire Microsoft web stack and then stay up-to-date with the latest releases.

But what good is a web platform without applications? So this week Microsoft launched the Web Application Installer, a companion tool that automatically installs and configures a number of widely used open source and community web applications. The app initially will install Graffiti, DotNetNuke, WordPress, Drupal, OSCommerce, and phpBB. It downloads the latest version of the application direct from the vendor.

According to David Lowe of the Windows server team, more applications will be added to the Web AI app in the future.

In some respects, Web AI reminds me of the cPanel installer Fantastico. Microsoft has taken the heavy lifting out of installing and configuring applications to work on their web platform stack, and makes doing things like installing phpBB or setting up WordPress, for example, a matter of a single click.

As Matt Asay points out, Web AI doesn’t make Microsoft a distributor of these open source apps, since they’re being downloaded from public source code repositories, but it is pretty close. And that’s a departure from Microsoft’s stance on open source software in the past.

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