Survey Says: IIS Top Choice Among Most Popular Web Sites

By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2004-02-06

Survey Says: IIS Top Choice Among Most Popular Web Sites

A new site survey has concluded that Microsoft Corp.s Internet Information Services Web server holds greater sway than Apache among the top 1,000 most trafficked sites on the Web.

The study, conducted by Port80 Software of San Diego, attempted to slice data collected by companies like Netcraft Ltd. and E-Soft Inc.s SecuritySpace service in a different manner: by discovering what a few key sites use to power their servers, rather than the Internet at large.

"I dont think you can provide the definitive answer by deploying such a wide net," said Chris Neppes, director of sales and marketing at Port80.

Port80 concluded that Microsoft IIS holds a 43.1 percent share among the top 1,000 sites, as measured by Nielsen NetRatings. The Apache server came in a close second, with a 39.7 percent share, followed by Netscapes enterprise server at 8.7 percent and other Web servers at 8.5 percent. The list of top 1,000 sites is not current, however; Port80 acquired the October 2003 list from Nielsen and then conducted its own survey in the last few weeks, Neppes said.

Port80s findings sharply contradict those from Netcraft and SecuritySpace, which crawl the millions of sites that currently make up the Internet. Netcraft, based in Bath, England, claims that—after polling over 47 million sites this month—Apache holds a sizable lead over IIS, 67.4 percent versus 21.0 percent.

SecuritySpace, of Burlington, Ontario, polled 13.7 million sites this month, concluding that Apache ran 69.8 percent of the sites, while Microsoft IIS powered 22.3 percent of the sites polled. "We looked more at the active Web," said Thomas Reinke, director of technology at SecuritySpace, instead of at "parked" sites.

"One other question that we get asked a lot—was this survey funded by Microsoft or its shareholders? No, were a private company and this survey was performed independently," Neppes said. SecuritySpace employs 15 workers and has been in business since 2002.

Next page: Could results be skewed?

Page Two

Executives at Port80 and SecuritySpace said they crawled the sites asking for server header information, which reports the type of server operating system powering the domain. Both companies acknowledged that their information could be skewed if site administrators programmed the software to report an OS other than their own for security, privacy or other reasons.

In addition, each survey simply polled the main server powering the site; other servers within the domain could run other operating systems that were not reported in the survey, they said.

"Weve seen some anomalies, such as sites reporting IIS 6 well before it was even released, so we know theyre playing some games," Reinke said. SecuritySpace could do some other, more intrusive checks to discover the true identity of the OS, "but were a security company," he said. "We dont want to go setting off alarm bells."

Port80s software is such that, now deployed across its servers, the survey could be rerun in a matter of hours, Neppes said. He said the company has not decided whether to rerun the survey at a future time.

SecuritySpaces Reinke said his company hasnt tried to produce its own top 1,000 list. Instead, he said an equivalent metric would be to look at the sites that use Secure Sockets Layer protocols for electronic commerce. There, the race is much more competitive, he said; Apache still holds the top spot in market share, with 48.4 percent of the 162,210 servers the company polled. But Microsofts IIS powered 42.3 percent, the company found.

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