The most common form of web hosting taken up by most newcomers to the web is know as shared hosting. This entailing buying space on one of the web servers of the web hosting firm, where each web server may contain several other websites from other account holders.
The two most popular operating system software setups used on shared hosting web servers are the linux / apache and Windows 2003 / IIS6 setups. There are several other software packages installed on each web server, but the operating system and the web server software are the most critical. The choice between these two setups usually always defines what software can be installed on the web servers hardware, and what you, the website developer, can utilize in developing your site.
Linux, an open source operating system, together with Apache an open source web server software package, are generally considered to be part of what is termed the LAMP systems. The other components are MySQL and Php. These software packages are generally available free of charge for personal or business use.The companies that supply these products offer extra value addons for which they charge. The majority of commercially available website software packages have been developed on and for LAMP systems. These systems are immensely stable and have been debugged extensively by the programming community that supports them. There is an enormous amount of recorded information available for you to search for, lots of people to ask questions if you need to. Forums are useful places to get both free and chargeable support. If you select a web server based on Linux / apache, you will have all these resources available to you and be able to develop your site along these lines for as long as you keep the site on a LAMP system. However, you will not be able to use most of the Microsoft based technologies.
Windows 2003 server together with IIS6 forms the Microsoft windows web hosting environment. This is now embedded in the Microsoft .net platform. Microsoft needs no introduction as the dominant desktop PC software supplier for going on 2 decades. Microsoft .net, which is now underpins Microsoft Web Technology, is a proprietary Microsoft Technology. The technology is embedded in all Microsoft operating systems from windows 2000 upwards, plus Microsoft office, Microsoft developer tools and some other products Beyond the scope of this article. In fact, It will probably be embedded in any product produced with Microsoft technology.
The windows web server environment is extremely popular with programmers and web developers who developed their skills on Microsoft technologies such as Visual Basic, possibly the most popular programming language in the world, Visual C, C ++, C #. There are certain fewer commercial web packages available for Microsoft .net web servers. This may due to the fact that LAMP servers dominate the internet, plus the cost of operating .net web software.
However, the .net platform is strongly capable and comes with many rapid development features built in. Many corporates develop their sites using these technologies and get noticeable results, very quickly. Microsoft provides what may be the world largest knowledge archive to support its product and access is easy, well though out and quick. Plus these are lots of online and off line experts willing and able to provide paid and free support to the novice or experienced web developer.
Both of these options are valid choices, and the choice made by the novice web developer must be determined by personal circumstance. I use both systems and can only say that when properly configured, both can be a joy to work with.
Due to the availability of free or commercial scripts, the none technical novice who simply wants to publish online will probably start with the Linux / apache setup.
For the vb.net/vb/excel programmer who has ideas to develop, a .net server is the straight forward choice. Whichever you chose, have fun!