Website builders who choose to run on Microsoft's web platform but also want to use open-source software are in for a pleasant surprise.

Microsoft Web Platform Installer 2.0 installs PHP, the popular website scripting language, and includes a collection of popular open-source web applications. For some, the inclusion of PHP is a shock, because the free scripting language competes with Microsoft's ASP.NET for use in developing websites. ASP.NET is popular among enterprise developers, but Web 2.0 startups and homebrew sites are often built atop PHP.

A Microsoft product manager told ZDNet's Microsoft reporter Mary-Jo Foley that by bundling a set of extremely popular open-source apps into its release, Microsoft hopes that site developers will simply install Microsoft Web Platform, rather than hunting down and installing each of the other software packages separately.

Microsoft's Web Platform site currently lists ten software packages included with the 2.0. Most notable are these:

* PHP - A scripting language for dynamic web pages, with recently improved support on Windows.
* WordPress - A web publishing platform that claims to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world.
* Drupal - The social website platform, with over 2,000 open-source modules for customisation and enhancement.
* Gallery - A web-based photo gallery application geared toward social sites, with built-in support for private and group access to photos.

There's another compelling reason for Microsoft to include some of its perceived competitors in its package: To dispel the notion that Microsoft is trying to block PHP in favour of its own ASP.NET. It's a stigma Microsoft has lived with, justifiably, since 1997, when the company added support for Sun's Java language that required Java programmers to write applications that were incompatible with operating systems other than Microsoft Windows.