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Zend Web tools adapted for Windows

Partnership with Microsoft is meant to improve Zend's open-source PHP tools for creating dynamic Web pages.

Zend has signed a partnership with Microsoft to improve its open-source PHP software for creating dynamic Web pages, the companies announced Tuesday.

At the Zend/PHP conference Tuesday, Zend will demonstrate improvements to the PHP software that raise reliability and that double or triple its speed on Windows servers, said Andi Gutmans, the company's co-founder and vice president of technology. "We're pretty much on par with Linux," where PHP more commonly resides, he said.

PHP is used to create customized Web pages, typically by running scripts that process data stored in databases. It's commonly enough used in conjunction with Linux, Apache Web server software and MySQL database software, a package known by the LAMP acronym.

The companies believe the alternative "WIMP stack"--which substitutes Windows and the Internet Information Server (IIS) for Linux and Apache--will have some appeal. Zend will release a technology preview version at the conference and plans to bring them to its supported Zend Core software in January, Gutmans said.

The move spotlights a growing pragmatism, not because Microsoft is accommodating previously shunned open-source software, but also because open-source companies are willing to work with Microsoft.

"If it were up to Microsoft a few years ago, it would simply crush all of these languages and operating systems that didn't fall within its worldview," said Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff. "Now I think Microsoft is being more pragmatic and realizing things like Linux and PHP are not going away. Therefore, it's in its best interest to make at least grudging peace."

The multiyear partnership with Zend also will examine other areas of collaboration, including integration with Microsoft's Active Directory and management tools, said Bill Hilf, general manager of technical platform strategy at Microsoft.

Another area of discussion is replacing MySQL with Microsoft's SQL Server database software--presumably leading to the acronym WISP. Zend already has database partnerships with Oracle and IBM.

Microsoft has its own equivalent to PHP in its Active Server Pages technology. The company will continue to aggressively develop it, Hilf said.

Zend also plans to release version 0.2 of its Zend Framework programming tools for PHP, Gutmans said. The company had hoped to release a preview version of 1.0, but instead, another incarnation, 0.6, is expected first, with 1.0 likely to arrive in the first quarter of 2007, Gutmans said.

Zend raised $20 million in August, but the company has lacked a CEO since earlier this year to run another company.

Gutmans said he hopes his company will have a new CEO this year. "We're still doing the search," he said. "We have some very good candidates."