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PC Week Online August 26, 1996 10:00 AM ET
NT 4.0 license,
not speed, is key

By Eamonn Sullivan

Tech ViewMicrosoft Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp. are tussling over the viability of Windows NT Workstation as a World Wide Web server. In testing, PC Week Labs found both sides to be correct, but it doesn't matter.

Microsoft claims that organizations should use Windows NT Server to run Web servers because it is faster. That is correct, according our tests. But Netscape is also correct to say that Windows NT Workstation is more than powerful enough to run most Web sites.

Microsoft will win this tug of war, of course, because it writes the license for Windows NT Workstation, and dedicated Web servers are prohibited in the license for Version 4.0, the newest release. However, the way Microsoft changed the license to ban this makes compliance almost impossible to measure.

During testing (see benchmark chart, below), we found Microsoft's Internet Information Server 2.0, which runs only on Windows NT Server 4.0, the fastest NT-based Web server we've seen. Netscape's Enterprise Server 2.0, only a hair behind IIS on Server, fell further behind when running on Workstation.

Workstation, however, is plenty powerful enough for most users. Microsoft's Peer Web Services (a limited version of IIS 2.0 that is built in to Workstation), for example, is the third-fastest NT-based Web server we've tested.

And, for Internet-connected Web servers, all of the servers we've tested will easily saturate a T-1 connection (1.55M bps) to the Internet--after which the performance differences become meaningless.

Microsoft's license agreement for Workstation, therefore, is the only thing keeping many organizations from using Workstation as a Web server.

In Workstation 3.51, Microsoft limited users to 10 "simultaneous" connections, but Microsoft's own support database excluded "anything that does not use the server and runs directly over ... Windows Sockets" (that is, most Web servers) from that limitation. That exclusion was removed in Version 4.0.

The Version 4.0 license prohibits using Workstation "as server software" and adds Web servers as one of the limited services.

According to Microsoft officials, a user merely reading a page stored on a Web server is now considered "connected" to that Web server under the license. But there is no way to measure how many users are "connected" that way.

To comply with the license for Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, corporations will have to watch usage on nondedicated servers carefully.

Windows NT 4.0 Server with IIS 2.0 provides performance edge

Difference will be noticeable only at high loads at LAN speeds
Enterprise Server 2.0 on NT 4.0 Server Enterprise Server 2.0 on NT 4.0 Workstation IIS 2.0 on NT 4.0 ServerPeer Web
Services on
NT Workstation 4.0
Avg. response time with 112 clients (sec.)0.800.880.790.89
Avg. throughput (Mbps)7.406.567.496.51
Server capacity (connections/sec.)137.95122.66140.35121.80

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Copyright (c) 1996 Ziff-Davis Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Ziff-Davis Publishing Company is prohibited. PC Week and the PC Week logo are trademarks of Ziff-Davis Publishing Company. PC Week Online and the PC Week Online logo are trademarks of Ziff-Davis Publishing Company.

JF