Web servers Microsoft IIS and NGINX battle for second place

Web servers Microsoft IIS and NGINX battle for second place

Summary: Microsoft's IIS, after falling behind the open-source NGINX Web server, is now racing neck and neck for the number two Web server spot well behind leader Apache.


When NGINX zoomed up to take second place from Microsoft's Internet Information Services (IIS) in the Web server derby, it looked like NGINX, a fast open-source Web server, would leave IIS in the dust and challenge long time Web leader Apache. It hasn't worked out that way.

Apache remains on top, while Microsoft's IIS and open-source NGINX continue their battle for second place. (Credit: Netcraft)

The July 2013 Netcraft Web Server Survey found that, "Apache and NGINX, both open source web servers, have lost market share this month while Microsoft gained significantly, up by 2.43 percentage points to just shy of 20-percent of worldwide sites. For the second consecutive month, NGINX is powering fewer sites than in the previous month's Web Server Survey, which is due, in part, to almost 2-million sites moving from NGINX to Apache. Within the million busiest sites, a similar picture emerges: NGINX lost over 4,000 busy sites, many of which have moved to Apache."

At the same time, IIS is gaining because of Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud deployments. According to Netcraft, "This month, Netcraft found 170,000 (13,000 more than last month) sites being served on 18,000 (+1,100) web-facing computers at Azure. Azure had net gains of sites from several of the best known hosting providers including Amazon, Rackspace, SoftLayer, and Go Daddy."

Even before this, NGINX was never able to leave IIS behind. After it took second place in January 2012, the two have raced neck and neck. NGINX, which is known for its speed, still has many important customers such as Netflix and Hulu that require very fast server responses to customer demand.

Apache, with 54-percent of the world server market, remains, as it has throughout the 21st century, the top Web server. Lagging behind the big three, with 9-percent, is Google Web Services (GWS). GWS is a proprietary custom-built server that runs on Linux.

Looking ahead Netcraft wonders if concerns over the NSA Prism surveillance program might drive more Web server users to Europe. If that proves to be the case, Apache and NGINX may gain popularity.

According to Netcraft, "the use of open-source software is significantly more prominent in Europe: more than 80 percent of European hosted sites use Apache or NGINX and less than 5 percent use Microsoft IIS. The United States, on the other hand, has more than 25 percent of its sites running on Microsoft IIS while Apache and NGINX have a slim majority of just 53 percent."

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Topics: Servers, Cloud, Google, Microsoft, Networking, Web development

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  • I like IIS, and asp.net (and its MVC variants) is still a really productive

    system for solid and rich maintainable development. I find .NET MVC for instance is a nice combination of the enterprise maintainability of things like JSP and asp.net, and the ease and cleanliness of Ruby on Rails.

    Azure makes it easier for someone to buy into the .NET stack, even if they don't want to run the platform locally.
    • Why would a fence sitter want to buy into the .NET stack?

      Info Dave
      • because it is a well done platform

        Since I refuse to view computers as religion, but just something I am interested in, I am able to look at the .NET stack, and able to like what I see. Azure is doing cool things as a platform, and Windows and Xamarin's tools provide good clients to it. And of course, C# as a language provides a lot of the strengths of C style development, as well as a lot of the nimbleness of PHP and Ruby.

        When you take the religion out of it, this is one of Microsoft's best areas.
        • IIs is a gem.

          ...IT Runs asp.net and asp.net mvc sites like no appache server can run a php web site. Gt etrix rates our websites at 97 and 98 percent. Meanwhile it rates our competitor's Wordpress websites at 50 percent overall. We have a small farm of servers for web hosting. We host 500+ web sites. Most are on windows and IIS. IIS allows us to have a better overall users per Cpu/memory ratio then appache. For us, it'll be IIS, asp.net and SQL server for a while
          • why don't you re-read your post one more time...

            "Meanwhile it rates our competitor's Wordpress websites at 50 percent overall."
            That's because most of the PHP code (specifically a lot of widely used Wordpress code) is not thread safe - so you can't run apache in threaded mode with Wordpress. That's also why "users per Cpu/memory" is lower.
            So - you're comparing applications, not web servers...
        • Over 85% of all kind of servers are using Linux

          and this is just part of big picture. Here are the figures of new devices sold in Jan-March 2013 (smartphone, tablet, portable, desktop)

          1. Android Linux 52-53%
          2. Apple 18-19%
          3. Windows 17-18%
          4. Other operation systems including other Linux distributions 12-13%

          Source: Digitimes, IDC, Gartner
    • Question for you

      Is your 2 cent check from Redmond in the mail ?
      • Why do you ask?

        Were you looking for him in line at the bank when you were cashing your check from Google?

        William Farrel
        • What does Google have to do with the article? Do explain..........

          Do explain, Be truthful.
        • Check

          I think you all need to learn how to spell cheque :-)
          Matthew Blott
    • NGinx vs IIS

      I like light HTTP server. NGinx and Linux seems to give the option. Planning to try Linux Debian with NGinx and write code with C#/Mono and hope to make a native build and see if it fares better.
      Vijay Thirugnanam
  • If you're worried about other people getting into

    your webserver you should be more worried about apache and nginx than IIS, on azure or otherwise. This applies equally to government agencies like the nsa. And if you're after raw speed IIS is also the winner there.
    Johnny Vegas
    • you get a check for 3 cents

      from Redmond, for adding that little security bit.
      • Another cent

        Make if 4cents for the speed bit. Obviously a lot of service providers don't agree with him.
      • America vs. Europe

        "According to Netcraft, "the use of open-source software is significantly more prominent in Europe: more than 80 percent of European hosted sites use Apache or NGINX and less than 5 percent use Microsoft IIS. "

        Maybe because Americans tend to be more "free market works" and "there ain't free lunch"-fundamentalists?
        • Re: more "free market works" and "there ain't free lunch"-fundamentalists"

          "Maybe because Americans tend to be more "free market works" and "there ain't free lunch"-fundamentalists?"

          It's not at all clear what you're trying to say.
          • you woke up slow this morning

            is quite clear.
            But where Europe is mentioned, it in reality should read Europe and the rest of the world.
            The only way Microsoft is able to keep clients is bribing their officers to keep contracts.
  • The Apache Software Foundation

    has always delivered great products and it will be tough to beat that, for any competitor, be they open source or proprietary.
    • Yeah!

      And we don't need Microsoft ecosystem no more. Then them die out. Their destiny is the destiny of The Neanderthal.
  • IIS rules the enterprise

    IIS rules the enterprise because there is a whole package that goes with IIS. Most of Apache installs are small bucket shops which has no money to spend on IT.