Windows hosting (Or not???)

Bluehost is a 100% linux shop. EVERYTHING we run is on linux and we love it. I think it is infinitely more stable and less expensive to maintain that windows. Even though 95% of our users run Windows in one form or another, many don’t know that Linux is what powers their website (Even their frontpage extensions).
I am not one of those “windows haters”. I choose linux because I believe it is technically superior to windows, not because of philosophical reasons. That being said, there are products out there that people need to host on their sites that are windows specific. Some of these include .Net support, ASP Support, Cold Fusion, SQL Server (Microsoft only product), etc. Although there are various degrees of success with making some of these products work on Linux, they are half baked in my opinion. To truely support these products you HAVE to use windows as the host operating system.

SO, the question is do we want to do windows hosting or not? The answer is… Drumroll… MAYBE. There are many things to consider when doing windows hosting. First, I think the web hosting control panels available for windows are weaker than what we currently offer at bluehost. Second, the cost for hosting on windows is more than linux because we have to pay for Databases, the Windows 2003 server operating system, and other propriety (Read NON FREE) software.

Microsoft has determined that we are now a top 50 hosting company in the world. They have also noticed that we host zero sites on the windows platform. Microsoft KNOWS that the hosting companies are going to drive a huge segment of users to the OS that they host their site on. Let me explain… If a user hosts with us on Linux and see that we offer PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby of Rails as programming languages then they will probably choose one of those to develop in. The problem is Microsoft doesn’t own any of those, and so loses control of the customer at that point. They aren’t stupid! Call Microsoft what you want, but they know how to aquire customers, and how to compete in the marketplace.

So, Microsoft has decided to “help us along” to get windows hosting up and going. I will leave the details out on my blog, but lets just say they have decided to be very aggressive and generous to us if we decide to do windows hosting. That is fine and dandy, but I ALWAYS put the customer first. If we do windows hosting it will be because we are offering a product that a segment of our customers want. It won’t be because Microsoft bribed me to do it.

If we do get windows hosting up and going, and it proves to be a superior product then we will of course push it aggressively for our customers. Those are two GIANT IFS in my opinion. Regardless, we are considering adding windows hosting to our already successful hosting services. If you have comments or would be interested in windows specific hosting I would like to hear your opinions. Bluehost’s customers are what matter, and I would be doing this for you when it is all said and done.

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

40 Responses to “Windows hosting (Or not???)”

  1. Bryan says:

    I realize I may be a minorty here, but…

    Personally, I don’t want windows anything anywhere. I was drawn to Blue Host in large part because of your support of open source services. I also appreciate your agressive pricing and excellent – easy to use – administration tools. Not to mention great customer support – though I hardly ever need it!

    I am a small customer…granted. But I want high quality just like anyone else. What I don’t want is prices to skyrocket, support to shift, products to be pushed. I want maximal flexibility – and open source solutions provide that.

    I know that you want to serve the customers who are demanding windows services. I think that is understandable. But let them pay for it. Make the pricing such that those who want microsoft products can be the ones who support it with their dollars. Don’t push it on the rest of us who are happy with open source.

  2. Eddie Awad says:

    there are products out there that people need to host on their sites that are windows specific. Some of these include …. Cold Fusion…

    I’m interested in ColdFusion. ColdFusion runs on Linux. Is there any reason why you do not have ColdFusion hosting? Is it because it is half baked on Linux?

    Moreover, how about you become the first to support the new free Oracle Database Express Edition hosting?

    By the way, I am a very satisfied Bluehost customer :) Thank you, you rock!

  3. Karl says:

    I would definately support windows hosting as well. Your customer support is next to none, and is why I have an account with you, but because you have no way to host .Net applications, or sharepoint sites, I have to carry a second account elsewhere. Please keep us posted on your decision to add MS web hosting.

  4. I am all-the-way linux hosting supporter and is glad that bluehost is fully “linux”. My impression of a host that supports linux, windows, or other operating systems makes me think that they are not really specialised. I dont believe in all-rounder, though I believe that you might get more sales by supporting windows.

    My current impression of the bluehost trade mark is “customer first, affordable and reliable hosting, linux based, php, mysql”. I wouldnt want a windows server to run my php site. If the windows hosting is a go-ahead, I would suggest to make it such that people see it as a separate part of bluehost, ie maybe a new domain name, company…etc.

    just a thought.

  5. Meg says:

    Like Bryan said above, I appreciated the fact that you were an Open Source shop, but I am not militant. This is a Macintosh house, with a big fat Linux server, with a 64 bit chip. I buy what works.

    Now then, I used to work for a small ISP, with web hosting. We had a few Windows servers, running Cold Fusion, .NET and all that jazz — a bigger headache I have never had in my life. And even tho we had versitile and knowledgeable people in sys. admin. and tech support, we did end up bringing in an outside consultant occasionally.

    MS servers may be more expensive than you think, ultimately.

  6. Aaron says:

    I currently use a Windows host for multiple reasons — and I continue to want to. Right now, both sites I maintain need .NET 2.0 support. One I might be able to migrate to a Linux platform, but the other one definitely not. Please consider adding Windows support. As to pricing — make it smart, competitive, and what makes sense for your business. I’d expect nothing less for your customers. I’d also like to see easy support added for blogging engines such as Movable Type.

  7. Dan says:

    I agree that one of the most appealing aspects of Blue Host is it’s open source attitude and linux servers.

    I am an avid Mac fan and do have philosophical disagreements with Microsoft. While that’s all good and fine I recognize the need for a business to make intelligent decisions.

    I just hope that if the decision is to go with Windows machines I don’t somehow help to foot the bill.

  8. Bob Morris says:

    Don’t do it unless you can do it as well as you do Linux – and tech support – now.

    I’ve got two WordPress blogs with you and a client just signed up based on my recommendation. The one-click upgrades, daily backups, and great phone support keep me coming back.

  9. I’m not opposed to Windows hosting, so long as it supports itself. What I mean is, I really love your price structure, and I’m perfectly content to remain hosted on Linux or other *NIX derivatives with open, standards-based solutions.

    Having said that, if you have customers or potential customers who want the Windows hosting solutions, and you need Windows to make it work, then go for it. If it turns out to be more expensive to host Windows, then I’d hope that those costs would be passed along to the Windows users (understanding that you would seek to keep either hosting price structure as reasonable as possible of course!)

    Do what you need to in order that you keep growing and keep providing the wonderful service that you have so far. If that means Windows for some customers, I don’t see that it’s a problem for the Linux folks if it doesn’t affect us otherwise.

    Cheers.

  10. Tero says:

    If you are able to add Windows hosting without any effect on the Linux resources, prices etc. (meaning adding a whole new admin and support organization instead of adding to the workload of the current one), fine. Otherwise I’d see it as reducing the quality of service for the current customers. Having dedicated administrators for a platform allows them to focus and develop their expertise on that platform instead of trying to spread thin supporting many different systems.

  11. I tend to stick with purely Linux hosting because it is what I am comfortable with, but I have a few friends that specialise in Microsoft products, specifically .Net and they are always on the lookout for Windows hosting as you can imagine.

    I think if you can provide Windows Hosting at a competitive price point and provide the required support that Windows hosting entails, why not do it, it can only benifit Bluehost in the long run.

  12. John says:

    I’m very concerned by this whole concept. It seems clear to me that adding windows based hosting will drive costs up. and, I don’t want to end up paying for somone else’s use of windows hosting. And, I believe that you cannot separate the costs of windows hosting from the costs for hosting the rest of us — at some point I will end up paying for someone else to run windows.

    One of the reasons that i came to Bluehost was the linux only hosting — I do NOT want to end up having to pay for someone else’s problems.

  13. Lisa C. says:

    As others, have stated, I definitely support windows hosting. I too also have sites hosted with another company. It is not because they are cheaper, but because they are able to offer support on Windows products. Go ahead and charge what is feasible for your company.

    There are many people who hate Microsoft and their products. With that being said, for those of us unfortunate enough to be married to MS, how many of us can quit our jobs to spend 6 months becoming “experts” in new systems and platforms and still have 2 hours at night to spend with our families?

  14. Mike Larose says:

    I would like to see how much windows hosting would be compared to the linux hosting. If it isn’t much more I would definately switch to windows. I have developed in both worlds and I love the combination of .net/Visual Studio/MS Sql Server.

    I only use Bluehost for my personal ‘fun’ site so Linux is just fine. If I wanted to use a site for business I would prefer Windows. Why? two words “Rapid Development”. I am quicker with .net than perl/php etc. Your mileage may vary…..

  15. Walter Soto says:

    I would love Windows hosting, I like PHP but ASP.NET is way better.

  16. Kevin says:

    I love the usability of your hosting, but I would not be opposed to MS as well. I have interest in .NET but not enough that I “have” to use MS hosting now.

    If you decide to offer MS hosting I would hate to see all our prices go up but to tell you the truth it was not your price that led me here it was what I heard about your customer service. There are other “host” out there with very competative prices with more features but their CS is very lacking.

    Give me more choices and I would be willing to pay a little more if it benefits me just don’t cut the customer service budget to pay for it :)

    Bottom line it makes good business sense to offer more packages to your end user if you want to grow.

  17. I am an avid fan of open source software, but .NET is good stuff. I’ve been mucking around with programming a bit and am keen to explore the possibility of setting up a site on the windows platform.

    I don’t see a problem with running 2 services side by side if that is what you were planning and would be interested in using your service when you finally do it.

  18. jordi says:

    I think that if you give windows support, it’s more probable that people think your quality isn’t as good as it is.

    as someone said above, if you do choose to offer windows hosting, you should offer this servies as another company. You don’t want people to relate bluehost to bad products ;)

  19. Luis says:

    I’m migrating from IIS-ASP-MDB-VBscript to Apache-PHP-MySQL-Javascript and Ajax and today I’m a functional dislexic . The temptation of MS platform will make the same thing to your minds. Try it, but be carefully.

    Plesk problems was the reason for the migration.

    I never find something like ‘Fantastico’ in MS platforms. I’m enjoying very much with the open source applications.

  20. John says:

    As I use .NET at work and LAMP for personal stuff, I’d be very interested in your Windows hosting service.

    .NET 2.0 has some good features and I would welcome the opportunity to develop and deploy personal sites and apps using ASP.NET/VS/SQL.

  21. Taresa says:

    I admire Microsoft about as much as I avoid it. Windows hosting isn’t a priority at all.

    Go easy on our BH support and admin team. They’re so happy and cute! Don’t give them unnecessary headaches if it can be avoided.

  22. Jeremy says:

    I am a huge bluehost fan. My whole office has BlueHost personal sites and we’re always utilising Fantastico and the simple control panel. I’ve even done some client blogs with WordPress, TextPattern, etc. BUT… we all develop on .net. WOAH!!!!! Imagine BlueHost support and reliability WITH asp .net and SQL server! I’d be in heaven.

  23. Reed says:

    Bluehost is great and I recommend it to others. I would still recommend it Matt if you went over to the dark side.

    The problem that I have with microsoft web products is that they dont seem to stick to the standards. I run linux 99% of the time but have to run windows to use some websites.

    If the microsoft (or any other) products dont comply to the w3c standards then the web is better off without them.

    “This post is best viewed with internet explorer.” :-)

  24. Rachael M says:

    Hi Matt! Big fan of Bluehost and recommend your company to all my clients except for my Cold Fusion clients. Which I’m still hunting for hosting as great as yours because you spoiled me! Personally, Windows or Linux, doesn’t make a big difference to me as long as it has Cold Fusion server with CFFILE support.

    I don’t know if this would help but at this time I’m willig to try anything…

    Please! pretty please! with sugar! could you offer CF so I can stay just with you?

    Thank you!

  25. Thomas Rowley says:

    Face the facts, people. Microsoft is deployed on over 80% of desktops worldwide. However, Linux is deployed on over 70% of web servers worldwide.

    Reason = Cost

    I am not here to debate whether Windows is “more secure” than Linux or whether Linux is more stable than Windows…. Blah! Blah! Blah! The simple fact remains that due to the deployment of Windows worldwide, I think it would be crazy for ANY web hosting company to NOT have the choice for the customer. It is potentially the difference between being a “Top 50″ company and striving to be the “#1 company”. I know that the Bluehost management team realizes this. And for this reason alome, they should make the switch.

    I am pretty limited in my web developing abilities. And I would like to implement a database-lookup feature in my websites. I can do this on a MS-based website fairly easily. I do not know how to make this work in Linux. ANd I am a pretty sharp IT guy!! So, I know this would be a HUGE bonus for my sites. Just my $.02. :-)

  26. I have a client site that is currently hosted on Windows, for a lot less value (more money, less support and fewer services). If bluehost had Windows as an option, it might be easier for me to get the client to move to bluehost, and then to Linux … two steps instead of one.

  27. Moneeb Nasir says:

    Please, please, please do not use Windows servers. The whole reason I use bluehost is because you are 100% linux.

  28. Marina M says:

    New to Blue Host, chose you over others first and for most for customer service and of course price had something to do with it. However, I will be searching for a MS host for my database needs in the near future, since I am a MS developer.

    I would encourage the jump, but keep a strong customer service.

  29. Ryan says:

    Like many other people have said, I maintain an account at another webhost only because I need .NET support. I am paid up for several months on my other account, but would probably migrate it eventually if bluehost had a windows hosting platform. Actually, I don’t see what the comotion is about. You clearly stated that the Windows hosting would not affect the pricing of the current system. Why does anyone care if Windows is offered in addition to the current system?

  30. Curtis says:

    Well folks, I like the open source attitude but I am just a designer not a coder. I like, as you can see, things that are fairly simple. Unfortunately I am currently contracting to a company that needs Cold Fusion. They have what they have for the reasons they have chosen. I have to work with what they have.

    Sure I would love it if all could be open source, but that is not the way it is. This company need cold fusion, and they like the interface, options, and price structure. If you need to charge for the services, as long as they are equally as competitive/comparative to your non-Windows services.

    I gave them a thumbs up, about BlueHost and I can stall them for a while, but sooner or later I will have to shop elsewhere…for them, not me.

    I appreciate the service and the buisness model. Keep up the good work what ever the executive decision boils down to…

    Variety is good sometimes, especially if you can get the big MS hand up. Offer MS with your buisness model and tech support and pricing and I think it will be worth the hassle.

  31. jim arnold says:

    I’m in the process of shutting down a Linux web server I set up about 7 years ago. It has run flawlessly for the entire time. But during the course of those years I’ve migrated to FreeBSD except for that web server. I shudder at the thought of using Microsoft. My firewalls and mail servers all run FreeBSD. Keep up the great work.

  32. When I was seeking out a compeditive hosting company on American soil (my previous host was in Canada) my requirements were that it be Linux. I wanted to learn PHP, SSI and Perl, things our Windows based server at work didn’t have. Offer the Windows Server if you’d like, but please keep Linux, I won’t switch.

    The Fantastico and SQL databases are a real plus to your hosting package, the best I’ve found anywhere.

  33. bui says:

    I am glad that you are at least considering it. I currently work for a company that predominantly uses RedHat Linux and Windows. I think linux is a great platform. But the reality is that Windows can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. As you mentioned, most users are predominantly windows based users, and in my opinion this really doesn’t impact what you run on the backend at the datacenter. But, when businesses are driven for one business reason or another, or prefer to use a specific technology, such as Coldfusion, ASP, .NET, or MS SQL, then bluehost would not make a logical choice as a hosting provider. I am not currently using bluehost as my hosting provider. And although, I found out that bluehost currently does not support the Microsoft technologies, I was still extremely impressed with what bluehost had to offer. Coldfusion, I believe does run on Linux, and I hope that bluehost will at least consider adding support for it in the future, as well as support for MS SQL, ASP, and .NET.

  34. bui says:

    P.S. – Until bluehost offers Coldfusion support/ASP/.NET/MS SQL, I am forced to consider using 2 hosting providers. Would love to manage everything in one account.

  35. jbrowdy says:

    I am indifferent to Windows hosting as long is it does not detract from the already great hosting done with Linux.

  36. Marco Ponti says:

    Hi.
    1st – Sorry for my english.

    I love your hosting, the price is good and the features very good.

    I think that you must have a windows hosting in order to complete your range of services.
    I love ASP, for me is easy and I programming with ASP quickly.

    Seen the PHP power, if you wanted to set up a hosting windos, you would have to include many components that are required if you want to do the “same” things you do with PHP.

    I have a windows hosting with Brinkster and they include many components for Imaging processing, Mail management etc.

    If you set up a windows hosting with the same technical characteristics, i will move my hosting to you certainly.

  37. Nick says:

    Please continue to focus on quality Linux hosting solutions and steer clear of Microsoft altogether. Like many above, I was drawn to Bluehost because it is a quality web-provider that wasn’t suffering from the bloat and overhead of managing two or three server architectures. The dichotomy is not as transparent as it seems. The “help” from Microsoft may very well turn into a giant pair of licensing/support handcuffs.

  38. Tom Sumner says:

    There is only one man in the field of hosting that has a clue and a rock solid foundation with which he works and we all know that is Matt Heaton!

    Way to go Matt. The world of Recovery owes Matt a huge thanks on many counts and will forever be in his debt.

    Tom Sumner
    Publisher
    Recovery Times

  39. George says:

    I hear you talking about PHP on this so far fantastic host. Is there by any means a chance that bluehost updates the php version to somewhat like version 5 in the near future?
    I have installed a dating module on a postnuke site that requires php 5 to aprove members.

    http://kohtao-community.com/index.php?module=pnConnections&func=view&option=home

    Please let us know what the plan is here.

    Thanks in advance
    George

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