Reasons for Apache’s 56%

In a recent post I asked why Apache is losing market share for several months in a row now. Several readers responded with insightful comments and possible answers like better configuration tools or today’s high quality of IIS.

The response to my article was overwhelming – I never got so many comments to one single article. I really appreciate the feedback because it gives a glimpse about the reality behind the figures.

The main reason – which I embarrassingly haven’t included in my speculations – seems to be that IIS simply grew up. Many readers pointed out that from there point of view IIS turned from a crappy piece into a decent, appealing product. It is stable, reliable and gives all you need as a web administrator. Microsoft seems to make huge and important steps to improve its product and really take on the competition.

The second reason mentioned by many readers was about the ease of configuration: IIS comes with a comfortable GUI which makes it easy and straightforward to administer such servers. Also, it is easy to set up on Windows machines because it is also integrated into the system. In the opposite case Apache does not have a main GUI, but a quite complicated configuration file (of course there are 3rd party GUIs – but they are 3rd party). Also, setting up Apache is more difficult than setting up IIS.

A third reason seems to be APS.Net. Several comments mentions ASP.Net as a good reason to use IIS because it offers more than other solutions, or at least the combination IIS+ASP.Net offers more than Apache+anything. It was also suggested that ASP.Net is aggressively marketed among IT people and others which in return makes IIS more attractive. It works on big companies, btw.

However, there was one reason with which I do have problems: the support perspective. If you are running Apache on an enterprise server you are able to get professional support. There are Red Hat and Novell, for example, and now also Oracle. You are not forced to ask on e-mail lists or in the usenet to get support for Apache.

Anyway, as a summary it looks like that MS learned its lesson and put some effort into IIS. And the money is not only spend in one field but in several fields.
To use the words of the readers:
“The IIS of old, isn’t the same IIS of new”, while “Apache is the same ugly beast it was 5 years ago”.

I wonder if the Apache community is aware of these opinions, and if the take them for serious.
And I wonder what kind of impact a wider spread of IIS will have. The monopoly of IE5+6 was so bad it even created problems for MS themselves when IE7 was released. And although I know that many people say Microsoft changes these days, the main people there are still Ballmer and Gates, not Bill Hilf or someone else more open minded to open standards…

Some things to remember: This is not about the GoDaddy move, this is about the general trend taking place. Second, this is not about the absolute numbers – it is about the market share in percentage. Last but not least, I do not deal with web servers on my own. I have little to no experience in that field. This post just summarizes things mentioned at my blog.

14 thoughts on “Reasons for Apache’s 56%”

  1. There are Apache installations moving to lighttpd (I’ve personally moved a few), that could also dent Apache’s share.

  2. I still think you are misled here. Have a look at this recent report:

    April 2007 Web Server Survey

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | In the April 2007 survey we received responses from 113,658,468 sites,
    | an increase of 3.2 million sites from last month’s survey. Apache
    | continues to be the most widely-used web server, powering more than
    | 66.9 million sites, compared to 35.3 million sites using Microsoft
    | server software.

    Also see:

    December 2006 Security Space Survey Results

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | Security Space estimates that nearly 90 percent of all Web sites
    | are “orphans” to which no other sites link. Its Web server survey
    | ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    | therefore counts only those servers referenced on other sites.

  3. @Roy: As I wrote in the last paragraph: this post is about the trend, not about the absolute numbers. Of course I know that Apache still has the majority share, but the trend is running against Apache – and to keep the majority share the Apache community should react now, because now it is not too late.

    The second link is indeed very interesting, but that was clear because of the GoDaddy-effect. Nevertheless, I might include that into another post about the topic.
    On the other hand, other sources show that most big companies prefer IIS, and not Apache, which is also an alarming sign I think.

  4. I’ve been using Apache since about when it came out in the mid-90s. Have also used IIS in the past (yes, when it was crappy). Do NOT underestimate the wonder that is Apache. Firstly, a LOT of Apache+somethings compare to IIS+.NET. How about the LAMP stack, people?

    Apache is practically brain-dead to configure. Ok, there’s not generally a GUI, but Hello, in most Linux distros you install it (read: “yum install httpd”), and then start it, you guessed it, it runs and serves pages!

    Apache is the market leader for a reason. It works great, is easy to configure, and can compete with anything, even though it gets challenging when the competitors are throwing hooks into their kernel to give their software a speed boost.

  5. liquidat, I have some more links which indicate that Apache is/was gaining. Some figures tend to be louder than others. Just remember that PR lies. Apache hasn’t PR. It’s a missing ‘feature’.

  6. @Roy: Sure, PR is one thing – but I think that Netcraft is quite blind to such things because they do real statistics and test the servers. And Netcraft isn’t a especially MS friendly company (for example, they run on Apache/FreeBSD). Also, keep in mind: I’m talking about the market share (%) – of course, in real numbers Apache gains like hell! But IIS gains even faster.

    Also: whether Apache looses or not atm., the features IIS has these days or will get with the future releases should really set the Apache developers on fire – Apache should not rest on everything they earned to lose it all when the competition closes in!

  7. I’m impressed with your summary of the debate in this post, liquidat. Thanks for starting the discussion, and for moderating the passion from both sides.

  8. I think you’ve summarised the main strong points of IIS over apache very well. I can now understand why people prefer IIS. But in the past, I’ve always been very surprised with people using this crappy unsupported “service”. So 56% isn’t surprising me now, but _only_ 75% in the past is.

  9. Competition is good!

    But let’s hope Apache developers will react soon and the trend gets reversed.

    Why? Otherwise M$ will dominate both the HTTP clients market AND HTTP servers market. Then they’ll get tempted to create their old dreamed Microsoft Network on top of the “embraced and extended” new MS-HTTP protocol, a replacement of today’s standard HTTP.

  10. Google’s GFE is a modified version of Apache, that due to it’s market share now appears on its own in Netcraft surveys. If we sum GFE with Apache proper, we see that Apache hasn’t been loosing market share after all. And there’s other examples, albeit almost irrelevant: IBM’s HTTP Server also appears on its own in the survey, and it too is just a modified Apache (IBM just replaces OpenSSL with their own GSkit).

  11. Carlos, while the Google-server effect shows itself in the statistics in the month were it was introduced as its own server it has little to do with the shrinking going on with Netcraft for almost a year.

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