IIS (Internet Information Server) definition

Contributor(s): Keith Dodge, Bob Lehto, and Mike Weiner

IIS (Internet Information Server) is a group of Internet servers (including a Web or Hypertext Transfer Protocol server and a File Transfer Protocol server) with additional capabilities for Microsoft's Windows NT and Windows 2000 Server operating systems. IIS is Microsoft's entry to compete in the Internet server market that is also addressed by Apache, Sun Microsystems, O'Reilly, and others. With IIS, Microsoft includes a set of programs for building and administering Web sites, a search engine, and support for writing Web-based applications that access databases. Microsoft points out that IIS is tightly integrated with the Windows NT and 2000 Servers in a number of ways, resulting in faster Web page serving.

A typical company that buys IIS can create pages for Web sites using Microsoft's Front Page product (with its WYSIWYG user interface). Web developers can use Microsoft's Active Server Page (ASP)technology, which means that applications - including ActiveX controls - can be imbedded in Web pages that modify the content sent back to users. Developers can also write programs that filter requests and get the correct Web pages for different users by using Microsoft's Internet Server Application Program Interface (ISAPI) interface. ASPs and ISAPI programs run more efficiently than common gateway interface (CGI) and server-side include (SSI) programs, two current technologies. (However, there are comparable interfaces on other platforms.)

Microsoft includes special capabilities for server administrators designed to appeal to Internet service providers (ISPs). It includes a single window (or "console") from which all services and users can be administered. It's designed to be easy to add components as snap-ins that you didn't initially install. The administrative windows can be customized for access by individual customers.

Microsoft has been criticized for IIS's susceptibility to computer virus attacks such as Code Red and Nimda


This was first published in October 2008

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