Maybe it’s just me. But I feel like we used to hear so much more about IIS. I often wonder about the lack of attention. Perhaps it is related to the relative maturity of the product. After all, IIS 6 has had no critical security vulnerabilities, and people tend to talk about Microsoft vulnerabilities more than their positive achievements. In any case, Karen Forster and I sat down with Microsoft’s Brian Goldfarb at Tech Ed in Orlando to catch up on all the news related to IIS. And with IIS 7.0 on the horizon, Brian had a lot of news to share. You can see a video podcast of our interview with Brian here:

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Brian focused on four major areas of improvement for IIS. The first was the announcement at Tech Ed that web workload will now be an option with Server Core. When Microsoft first introduced the Server Core concept, IIS was not one of the roles you could choose. IT Pros and web developers spoke up loud and clear, and Microsoft responded. The caveat is that Server Core still does not have the .NET framework, which means no ASP.NET. So you can host only static web pages with your web workload on Server Core. Brian downplayed the lack of .NET, but it’s a very important missing piece that will keep people from putting IIS on Server Core.

Another new capability with IIS 7.0 is centralized configuration for web farms. No more restarts every time you make a configuration change. Updates are instantaneous. This is a clearly competitive move on Microsoft’s part since large web farms use competing products, and Brian admitted that lack of centralized config was one of their biggest complaints about IIS.

With IIS 7.0, the metabase is gone. Microsoft is switching to a distributed, file-based configuration model in an effort to make IIS easier to manage. The new tools should facilitate deployment and allow sys admins to delegate management tasks to site owners.

Health monitoring and diagnostics are also getting more attention with IIS 7.0. Microsoft is introducing better logging and reporting so you can identify misbehaving and rogue apps more easily. Brian said full transparency for all processes is the goal with these improvements.

I should also mention that Microsoft is offering a Go Live License for IIS 7.0 Beta 3 software. You can get IIS 7.0 up and running in production before Windows Server 2008 is released. To get your Go Live License, visit the community site.