One of the most common issues that people approaching Web Development with Microsoft products complain about is how difficult it can be to set up all the software they need. Getting a machine up to speed is kind of a hassle because you need to go and get IIS7, Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition, SQL Server 2008 Express Edition and the .NET Framework. And you need to know where to go and get those, which is not always obvious!

We tried to address this and also provide a simple way to install all sorts of frameworks, languages and applications that can help you kick start your development. So the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI for the closest friends) was born.

Even better, last week we announced the release of version 2 of Web PI which adds even more goodness like, for example, PHP!! Right, you read it correctly, Web PI is the easiest way to install and configure PHP on a Windows machine!

So, what is it exactly? Web PI is basically an installer that when launched will take care of automatically installing all the components and pieces of software you need to start developing web sites. To get it, just go to http://www.microsoft.com/web and click on the Download button. Launch the little (about 2MB) installer and you will get a window like this from which you can select the various components you want to install:

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Not only it will download, install and configure the platform components, you can also click the Web Applications tab and it will allow you to select popular open source applications like WordPress, Drupal, Gallery, Moodle and may more. They also will be downloaded, installed and configured!!! All in all, with a few clicks you are ready to go.

Of course depending on your bandwidth it may take more or less time to download all the bits necessary (potentially you may be installing 131 products and downloading up to 22GB of installers) but once you selected all you need, you can forget about it and it will do all the work for you!! Pretty handy!

So... I would suggest you go, download and give it a go. And if you want more software of course, go to http://www.dreamspark.com where you can find the FULL version of some of the tools Web PI would install (like Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition or SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition) and much more.

Happy coding!