On desktop PCs, Windows is the most popular operating system by far, but when it comes to web servers, Windows has a much smaller market share than Linux and other Unix-like operating systems.
One possible reason is that Windows hosting is normally more expensive than Linux hosting. In order to use Windows, one needs a paid license from Microsoft, while using Linux is free; and web hosting companies will normally pass these costs on to their customers.
One company offering low-cost yet high-quality Windows hosting is GoDaddy.
At the time of writing, they have a particularly attractive deal: you can get their Deluxe hosting plan for the price of their Economy plan ($4.74/mo. for the one-year plan); this includes an unlimited number of websites, unlimited bandwidth, and 150 GB disk space. Click the banner below to get the discount; you need to hurry, though, because the offer expires May 22, 2012...
Another reason for its smaller market share in the server market is that Windows (deservedly or not) has a reputation for being slower and less stable than Linux; programming errors and security problems are discovered on a regular basis.
In these cases, Microsoft typically releases security patches that have to be installed on the web server as soon as possible. If that doesn't happen, hackers can sometimes gain complete control of the web server.
One may start to wonder why so many companies and individuals still choose to host their web sites on a Windows platform; this may well be because the software is so familiar.
If you are used to using Windows on your desktop computer, you should find it relatively easy to manage a Windows server, while Linux and other Unix-like operating systems still have a reputation for being rather cryptic and geek oriented.
That "familiarity" applies not only to the operating system itself, but also to the databases and scripting languages used in Windows hosting.
The Windows platform typically uses the Internet Information Server (IIS) as its web server, along with an Access or SQL Server database, and an Active Server Pages (ASP) scripting environment.
Access is often used for relatively small database applications; the product is part of the Microsoft Office suite.
MS SQL Server is meant for database applications that have to support a large number of users and transactions. It is widely used, e.g. in the banking and insurance sectors.
Active Server Pages is a scripting environment that supports several programming languages, including VBScript. This language strongly resembles Visual Basic, and as a result, many companies possess in-house expertise for developing ASP applications.
A number of years ago, Microsoft released the so-called .NET environment that should further increase the functionality and performance of Windows applications (including Windows hosting).