Microsoft Releases Free 'Express' Version of IIS

Microsoft yesterday released a free version of its Internet Information Server (IIS) Web server, called IIS Express 7.5. The new software enables developers to build and test Web applications optimized for Microsoft's flagship IIS 7.5, and offers a more robust feature set than the ASP.NET Development Server (code named "Cassini") bundled with Visual Studio.

According to a blog post earlier this year by Microsoft Corporate Vice President of the Developer Division Scott Guthrie, IIS Express occupies the middle ground between the full-fledged IIS and the simple ASP.NET Development Server.

"We think it combines the ease of use of the ASP.NET Web Server with the full power of IIS," Guthrie wrote. "The downside with using the IIS option today, though, is that some companies don’t allow full Web servers to be installed on developer machines. IIS also requires administrator account access to setup and debug projects."

Guthrie noted that configuring Visual Studio to use IIS can require additional installation and configuration steps. Different versions of Windows also support different versions of IIS, which can create app compatibility issues.

IIS Express offers seamless Visual Studio integration that does not require an administer account to run and features a lightweight 3.9 MB download and install. Unlike ASP.NET Web Server, IIS Express supports the full IIS feature set, Guthrie wrote, "including SSL, URL Rewrite, Media Support, and all other IIS 7.x modules."

IIS Express supports all versions of ASP.NET and its application types, including ASP.NET MVC, and existing projects will work with IIS Express without code modifications, Guthrie wrote.

Microsoft released a public beta of IIS Express 7.5 earlier this month. The final version of the software can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.