Thanks to WinInfo subscriber Tony Barnecut for the tip: Microsoft has released the first public beta of Internet Information Server 4.0 for Windows NT Server, Peer Web Services 4.0 for Windows NT Workstation, and Personal Web Server 4.0 for Windows 95. These releases are "Beta 2" and IIS users particularly should take note: this release will not upgrade an existing IIS 2.0 or 3.0 install, so proceed with caution. The release notes state that Beta 3 will fix this problem.

I installed PWS 4.0 last night on my Windows 95 machine and hope to get the NT Workstation version going this weekend. Overall, the new release is a dramatic improvement over previous versions, though the Windows 95 Web server is clearly aimed at newbies: it automatically creates a lame "About me" home page that would be ridiculed by anyone. The Windows 95 version obviously lacks some of the features in the NT versions, such as Index Server 2.0 support, but it actually does includes Microsoft Transaction Server, which is very cool.

I attended a Microsoft Mega Summit in January and got to talk to a lead IIS developer who told me that the code base for the NT Server, NTWS, and Windows 95 versions of these Web servers are absolutely identical and that the lower-end versions were simply dumbed-down for their particular audiences. The Windows 95 version, for example, now supports a true Win32 executable management program, rather than the Web-only management in the previous version. Like the NTWS version, however, it is limited to ten (10) simultaneous connections by the license agreement.

I hope to have more information about IIS 4.0 soon as I intend to use this server on the Big Tent Web server as soon as it is stable enough. You can download the IIS 4.0 servers and get more information from the new IIS 4.0 beta Web site. Good luck getting through, however: the Microsoft site has been down for the count since Thursday night, due mostly to heavy server loads and an increase in the number of Active Server Pages scripts used on the mammoth site. Microsoft promises to have these problems fixed soon, but it's been an aggravating week or so if you frequent the site