Just Like Christmas Eve

It's officially past midnight, and we're five minutes into May 23rd, 2006 - the day on which IIS7 will officially ship as part of Windows Vista Beta 2 our first public Beta release.  I've just finished putting the final touches on the http://www.iis.net site which will launch in the morning, and now it's time for the obligatory first post to my new blog.  I figure a few introductions are in order:

About Me
My name is Bill Staples.  I've been a Web geek for more than ten years now, although I've always been more interested in the guts than the g l o r y.   Even though I've always thought high-performing, multi-user, application-hosting infrastructure is a fascinating subject, for one reason or another it seems the Web server hasn't been in vogue since before Microsoft DNA. :)

I got my start in the Web business working at a start-up internet service provider in early 1996, after graduating from the University of Utah.   Back in those days, we ran a variety of Web servers on Solaris (Ultra 2!) including Roxen, Zeus, and Apache, along with a slew of mail, news, authentication servers, and modem banks.  I enjoyed the Web stuff the most, so I ended up spending a lot of my time selling, designing, building, managing, and troubleshooting Web sites for our customers.  Back in those days I thought ColdFusion was the bomb, because it made seemingly complex things simple.  At some point I got my hands on the NT4 option pack (can you believe it is still available for download!) beta and started writing spaghetti code like the best of them thanks to classic ASP.  Now that was real fun.  Sometime in 1998 I convinced the company I worked for that the world needed a simple way to 1) create forms 2) publish those forms to a Web server 3) hook up the data from those forms into any ODBC compliant backend database and 4) configure simple workflow.  Because I was a developer first, and a businessman second, I insisted that we build it rather than borrow it, which is how I got my hands dirty building a Web server, dynamic scripting language, and workflow engine from scratch.  GroupLink's Web Forms was born.  Every time I see other products solving the same age-old problem, I have to smile.  (Of course, they all solve it better than we did - I think Web Forms died a horrible death after I left the company to come to Microsoft). 

I joined Microsoft in late summer of 1999.  I had really enjoyed working for small companies, but when Microsoft called I decided it was time to see what it was like to work in one of the biggest software companies in the world.  I was hired into MSN, but through the twists of fate, I ended up as a Program Manager on the IIS re-architecture team (which later combined with the IIS5 team to ship the IIS 5.1 and IIS 6 products).  Seven years later, and I still get a kick each and every day out of working on IIS.  Mostly it is because the team is so freaking awesome, and the technology we're building is so much fun and impacts so many people around the world.  Who wouldn't love it?

About My Product
Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past ten years, or you simply don't care much about the Web (then why are you reading this blog???) you probably already know enough about the history of IIS.  I won't bore you with that.  Since this is the debut of IIS7 in public beta form, I will share a little bit about this particular version of the product.

We started IIS7 planning around the time IIS6 shipped, back in early 2003.  The basic elements that you see online now, including a modular core web server, a distributed configuration system, a completely new Admin tool were long-time dreams for many of us on the team, and we spent much of the year in various stages of specing, prototyping, debating and planning.  In December of 2003, we merged with the ASP.NET and Visual Web Developer teams - bringing together all of the primary technologies of the Web Platform under a single division.  We kicked off our first official development milestone on April 5th, 2004 - 111 weeks ago today. 

We coded like mad for a solid year, taking a few weeks here and there to stabilize.  By April of 2005, we had finished nearly all of the features you find on iis.net today - in their basic form - and we were ready to check-in to Longhorn.  We spent 18 weeks moving our sources into Longhorn, and driving to meet the Longhorn check-in criteria, and made our first official check-in to Longhorn the last week of July, 2005. 

In the past year, the team has:
  • Completed more than 30 integrations into Longhorn
  • Opened and closed more than 4500 bugs against the product
  • Made 6 Full Test passes
  • Executed over 100,000 test cases
  • Held more than eight IIS7 customer labs in Redmond
  • Designed and developed  http://iis.net
  • ...and spent countless late nights and many weekends getting ready for this day.
111 weeks after officially beginning development, and three years since we last shipped a release of IIS, we are on the eve of our first public beta release of IIS7.  It feels like Christmas eve, as we can't wait to watch you open our presents.  :)

About the Site (http://iis.net)
One of the first ideas I remember ScottGu had, after the IIS/ASP.NET merger, was to start up a community site for IIS similar to www.ASP.net  I remember at some point we were brainstorming names for the site:  MicrosoftWebServer.com, IISWebServer.com, IISCommunityPortal.com, and on and on.  We never seemed to find the right name, or the right time, so the idea got shelved for later.  Late last year, I decided it was time to build the site, and what better domain name than iis.net.  So we acquired the name and started building the site.  Brian Goldfarb recommended we look at Kevin as a designer for the site.  Kevin has been involved in several Microsoft site designs, including the ASP.NET starter kits.  I think he did an amazing job with the IIS.net site, with great attention to detail, and a lot of patience.  He put up with my knit-picky feedback for weeks on end and the result is a great looking site.

The guys at Telligent deserve a lot of the credit for getting it online today.  Scott and Alex and Kyle (and probably others who I don't know names for) worked many hours, including some late nights and weekends getting everything just right.  They implemented the site in about eight weeks!

Of course, the site wouldn't be what it is without great content.  I hope you take the time to browse through the site and check it out.  I just finished writing up the FAQ, and I'm amazed at how many frequently asked questions we were able to answer with really great content, samples, videos, etc.  This has got to set a new world record - for IIS at least - in terms of having so much content available for a first Beta!  All the credit goes back to the product team - the PM team in particular - for writing such great content and patiently working through the many deadline and format changes, all while doing their day jobs.  The IIS PM team rocks.

Well, that's enough of the past, and I'm confident you've now heard more about me than you ever wanted to.  Future posts will focus on IIS, the technology we build, and the solutions we enable.  Hope to see you back soon.


  • congratulations Bill! Job well done.

  • Looks great Bill. Thanks for the hard work!

  • My first impression was that this is an Apple related page :). As we all knew that Apple pages or apps have always this metal background that this page use for the footer and the header.

  • Is there a way to secure my website to prevent people from downloading items from it? I'm new to IIS and it's security seems much different than Apache.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Andy - protecting a web site from unauthorized users is pretty easy. For instructions on how to do this with IIS5/6, there are several good sites out there, like this one site: http://www.hostmysite.com/support/dedicated/IIS/passwordprotect/

    The UI for IIS7 looks a bit different, but should (hopefully) be pretty simple to follow. Simply navigate to the authentication feature, enable Windows authentication and disable anonymous, then configure users and permissions as in the above link.

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