As you may realize, I was pretty excited to install IIS 4.0, but the beta 2 release that's now available has proven to be too buggy to use for many users, including myself. My personal trials with Personal Web Server 4.0, the version of IIS that runs on Windows 95, lasted all weekend and continue today. I was unable to properly uninstall the product and am now running a hybrid PWS 3.0b/4.0 system on my home Web server. Ah, the joys of beta testing. Feedback I've received from others indicates that the problems exist in PWS 4.0B2 for Windows NT Workstation and IIS 4.0B2 for Windows NT Server as well.

Overall, however, this release shows great promise and I'm looking forward to a future, more stable, beta. Administration of the NT versions of IIS 4 are now done through the Microsoft Management console, a Windows Explorer- like application that replaces Internet Service Manager and adds numerous new features. Access control in MMC is available at the file level, a huge improvement over IIS 3. A new version of the browser-based Web management is also significantly improved and the new Index Server 2.0 features Web-based management as well (only on NT, however). Unfortunately, Windows 95 users are left with a weak user interface that, while better than 3.0, is leagues below its NT counterparts. Interestingly, the Windows 95 Web server includes Microsoft Transaction Server, which shouldn't be needed on a server that can only handle 10 simultaneous transactions. This suggests that IIS and MTS are now tightly integrated and unseparable.

IIS 4.0 also includes an ASP debugger and an MMC interface and other performance enhancements. My observations on the NT version are currently based on a friend's machine; I was stung so bad by the Windows 95 version that I've been afraid to try it on NT. I may give in this week, however: this release is too powerful to ignore