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Web Server (IIS) Role Overview

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2

The Web Server (IIS) role in Windows Server® 2008 R2 lets you share information with users on the Internet, an intranet, or an extranet. Windows Server 2008 R2 delivers IIS 7.5, which is a unified Web platform that integrates IIS, ASP.NET, and Windows Communication Foundation. The key features and improvements in IIS 7.5 include the following:

  • Integrated extensions

    • WebDAV and FTP

    • Request Filtering

    • Administration Pack modules

  • Management enhancements

    • Best Practices Analyzer

    • IIS Module for Windows PowerShell™

    • Configuration logging and tracing

  • Application hosting enhancements

    • Service hardening

    • Managed service accounts

    • Hostable Web Core

    • Failed Request Tracing for FastCGI

  • Enhancements to .NET support on Server Core

In the following sections, learn more about the Web Server (IIS) role, the required and optional features in an IIS Web server, and hardware and software used for running an IIS Web server. At the end of this topic, learn how to open the interface for the Web server and how to find more information about IIS Web servers.

What Are Web Servers?

Web servers are computers that have specific software that allows them to accept requests from client computers and return responses to those requests. Web servers let you share information over the Internet, or through intranets and extranets.

With an IIS 7 Web server, you can:

  • Provide information to users on the Internet.

  • Let users download and upload content with FTP or World Wide Web Distributed Versioning and Authoring (WebDAV).

  • Host Web services that contain business logic for three-tier applications.

  • Distribute applications to users over the Internet instead of through physical media, such as floppy disks or CDs.

Web servers can be useful for different customers and needs. For example:

  • Small business owners might provide information about their services by using a simple Web site.

  • Owners of medium-sized businesses might offer their goods and services through an online ordering system composed of various applications in a site.

  • Enterprise businesses might develop and provide business applications to employees over corporate intranets.

  • Hosting companies might provide individual customers with server space and services to host different online content and applications.

  • Corporations might provide pertinent information and applications to business partners through extranets.

New Features in the Web Server Role in Windows Server 2008 R2

The following sections describe features of and improvements to IIS 7, the Web platform in Windows Server 2008 R2.

Integrated extensions

Building on the extensible and modular architecture introduced with IIS 7, the new IIS 7.5 integrates and enhances existing extensions while still providing additional extensibility and customization.

WebDAV and FTP

WebDAV and FTP functionality available in IIS 7 has been greatly enhanced by incorporating many new features that enable Web authors to publish content more reliably and securely than before. The new FTP and WebDAV modules also offer Web server administrators more options for authentication, auditing, and logging.

Request Filtering

The Request Filtering module, previously available as an extension for IIS 7, helps prevent potentially harmful requests from reaching the server by allowing you to restrict or block specific HTTP requests.

Administration Pack modules

Extension modules previously available for IIS 7 as part of the IIS Administration Pack offer additional tools to help you administer your IIS 7.5 Web server from IIS Manager. These modules include the Configuration Editor and UI extensions that will help you manage Request Filtering rules, FastCGI, and ASP.NET application settings.

Management enhancements

IIS 7.5 has the same distributed and delegated management architecture as IIS 7, but IIS 7.5 also offers new administration tools.

Best Practices Analyzer

Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) is a management tool that can be accessed by using Server Manager and Windows PowerShell. BPA can help administrators reduce best practice violations by scanning an IIS 7.5 Web server and reporting when potential configuration issues are found.

IIS Module for Windows PowerShell

The IIS module for Windows PowerShell is a Windows PowerShell snap-in that allows you to perform IIS 7 administrative tasks and manage IIS configuration and run-time data. In addition, a collection of task-oriented cmdlets provide a simple way to manage Web sites, Web applications, and Web servers.

Configuration logging and tracing

Configuration logging and tracing allows you to audit access to the IIS configuration and to track successful or failed modifications by enabling any new logs that become available in the Event Viewer.

Application hosting enhancements

Offering a variety of new features that help increase security and improve diagnostics, IIS 7.5 is an even more flexible and manageable platform for many types of Web applications, such as ASP.NET and PHP.

Service hardening

Building on the IIS 7 application pool isolation model that increased security and reliability, every IIS 7.5 application pool now runs each process as a unique, less-privileged identity.

Managed service accounts

Domain accounts that have passwords managed by the host computer are now supported as service identities in IIS 7.5. This means that server administrators no longer have to worry about expiring application pool passwords.

Hostable Web Core

Core IIS Web engine components can be consumed or hosted by other applications. This lets IIS 7 components service HTTP requests directly in an application. This is useful for enabling basic Web server capabilities for custom applications or for debugging applications.

Failed Request Tracing for FastCGI

In IIS 7.5, PHP developers that use the FastCGI module can implement IIS trace calls within their applications. Developers can then troubleshoot application errors by using IIS Failed Request Tracing to debug the code during development.

Enhancement to .NET support on Server Core

The Server Core installation option of Windows Server 2008 R2 provides support for the .NET Framework 2.0, 3.0, 3.5.1, and 4.0. This means you can host ASP.NET applications, perform remote management tasks from IIS Manager, and locally run cmdlets included with the IIS module for Windows PowerShell for IIS.

Hardware and Software for the Web Server Role

The hardware and software requirements for the Web Server role are the same as requirements for Windows Server 2008 R2. Use performance counters, lab test results, existing data from production environments, and pilot roll-outs to determine the capacity needed for your server and adjust as necessary.

Installing an IIS Web Server

After you finish installing the operating system, a list of initial configuration tasks appears. To install the Web Server (IIS) role, in the list of tasks, click Add roles and then click Web Server (IIS). For more information about installing IIS, see Installation.

Managing an IIS Web Server

Once you have IIS installed, use the following procedures to open IIS Manager on Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows® 7.

To open IIS Manager on Windows Server 2008 R2

  • Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and click Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.

To open IIS Manager on Windows 7

  1. Click Start and then click Control Panel.

  2. In Control Panel, click System and Security.

  3. In System and Security, click Administrative Tools.

  4. In Administrative Tools, click Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.

For More Information

To learn more about the Web Server role you can view the Help on your server. To do this, open IIS Manager as described in the previous section and press F1.

For more information about the Web Server role, see topics for Windows Server 2008 R2 on the Web:

  • For more information about the Web Server role and information about operating a Web server, see Windows Server 2008 (online).

  • For more information about deploying, operating, and troubleshooting a Web server, see (online).