Some bloggers [1] [2] gave the impression that Internet Information Server overtook Apache. According to a press release of Port80, IIS 6.0 passed Apache for the first time. In my view, however, this data doesn't say much about the market shares of Apache and IIS.

First of all, Port80 only surveyed Fortune 1000 companies. It is interesting that very big companies prefer IIS over Apache, but this data doesn't say anything about the overall market share of both systems. Netcraft, for example, has different data. According to them, Apache holds a market share of 61.28%, whereas IIS only has 32.13%.

Second, the fact that the number of IIS 6.0 installation increased recently is not surprising since more and more companies upgrade from IIS 5.0 now. If you compare the data of this press release with the data that Port80 published a year ago, you'll realize that there is no big change in respect to the market shares of Apache and IIS among Fortune 1000 companies. According to their last survey, 54.9% use IIS, and Apache has a market share of 23.3%. In June 2005 IIS had 53.7% and Apache 22.7%. So both web servers gained ground.

In my view, though, neither the data of Port80 nor the data of Netcraft is convincing. Of course, Fortune 1000 companies are not representative. Commercial web applications running on IIS are often quite expensive and therefore not affordable for small and mid-sized companies.

What about Netcraft? They only count domains. Innumerable owners of private homepages and weblogs have their own domain nowadays. Often they don't know the difference between Apache and IIS. They just rented some web space without even knowing which web server they use. Thus the Netcraft data doesn't say anything interesting about the market shares of Apache and IIS. It only shows that Apache is a better choice if you want to host thousands of domains with very low costs for each of it.

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So which web server has a greater overall market share? I don't know of any reliable statistics about this. However, from my point of view, Apache is the better choice for mid-sized companies. We are mostly a Windows shop, but when it comes to web applications Microsoft's solutions are not convincing. There are countless great Open Source tools for LAMP environments out there. Why should I spend thousands of Euros for a CMS, for example, if I can get the same thing for free? Plus, it is so much easier to find PHP or Java developers than for ASP.NET. I don't see how this could change in the near future.


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