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Windows-based hosting plans often include support for Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS) and Active Server Pages; the former is a Web server module that adds site building, search engine creation, and Web application development for Windows servers, while the latter is Microsoft’s scripting language designed to enhance functionality for content created with HyperText Markup Language (HTML).

Any serious Windows-based hosting package will most likely include support for Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS) and Active Server Pages (ASP) technologies. Along with MySQL (the most popular open-source version of the Structured Query Language (SQL) database access and management application), these two technologies form the core of website creation, data management and application development for your Windows-based server.

Rather than a service or a plug-in, IIS is actually a set of Web servers that, when installed on a hosted server running a version of the Windows Server operating system (OS), adds support for building websites, developing Web-based applications, and search engine creation. It may be considered as analogous to an Apache Web server installation on a Linux server. With IIS enabled, you can build your website and add advanced features like social media integration, user forums and interactive content. In addition, IIS provides support for the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and FrontPage Extensions, so you can create your own mail server to send email and activate advanced features of websites built with Microsoft FrontPage, respectively.

Like IIS, ASP isn’t so much a service or plug-in as it is a discrete component that adds functionality to your Windows server. This scripting language (which has been superseded by Microsoft’s ASP.NET tech, but continues to be supported by the company for both legacy and current application development) is used to give the server instructions on how to handle pages written in HyperText Markup Language (HTML), much like the PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) scripting language. With ASP, you can protect the source code of your pages or sensitive information like customer credit card information while still providing real-time content to people visiting your site.

Both of these components are generally included with any Windows-based hosting package, but since compatibility issues can arise between older versions of IIS and ASP and applications developed or scripted with newer versions, always check with your host to verify both IIS and ASP are available and up to date.

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