Availability of WAMP packages is not a new story, they are here since the beginning of last decade now. EasyPHP, Wamp, XAMPP and dozens of them. Find comparison of WAMP packages on Wikipedia here.
We are here not to discuss all of them, just top 3 to 5 which are active and we can use them reliably for development or optionally for production purpose or both.
Having WAMP stake up-to-date on production environment is important as we are using open-source technologies and there are few to hundreds of critical to non-critical bugs are being fixed with every new release of the software, and if it's development environment we would like to test new features when they're hot.!
All 3 editions are highly reliable and ready for production usage. I have tried both Zend Server and ZS-Community Edition, Zend Server - Commercial version is pre-tweaked for performance on production environment and Community Edition do not have some of the goodies. But that does not stop you or me from using Zend Server - CE on production. Zend Server comes with beautiful web-panel to administer, control and configure server from the browser itself. We can change PHP and Apache parameters, check server status and even restart service from within browser itself, this feature makes it good choice for remote server administration.
Zend Server - CE is as good for development as it is for production. It comes as Apache and PHP package where MySQL is an optional download during the installation wizard.
Uniform Server is comparatively new kid on the floor and highly configurable for both development and production use. It comes with system tray using which we can switch Apache and PHP configuration files from development to production or back and forth.
It comes in both VC6 and VC9 binaries for Windows and I must say it's most up-to-date WAMP package so far (I mean next or equal to Zend). Rest of all WAMP packages take week to months to bundle latest version of Apache, PHP or MySQL but I have observed Uniform Server very quick with that. This is main benefit if you are really looking for such option to use on production server.
Installation is simplest - extract and done. Comes with minimum, no big bucket (just 11-13MB in size).
Comes with some handy plug-ins for FTP, Resin, Tomcat etc. It has e-Accelerator packed with it is recommended for production use.
WampServer is decent Apache, MySQL and PHP stake, which comes as installer. Best part of it is that you can keep multiple version of PHP, Apache and MySQL over the same installation and at a time you can choose which version of A/M/P you want to run. It provides you wide variety of choice to choose from and we can always download newer version of PHP or MySQL or Apache and install as an add-on and if not suitable we can revert-back to older one just by a click or two.
Since last couple of years upgrades to components were slower and since Jan'11 I see some pace built-up. Recently included webGrind, X-debug etc in latest WampServer 2.1e, good for development will need some tweaking for usage in production.
This is my old companion for development machines and sometimes for production too. Though ApacheFriends do not recommend usage of XAMPP stake for production (it's for development and if you want to use for production use it at your own risk, but basically it's because of security reasons and default passwords and certain parameters in configs).
Comes in many packages for Mac, Linux and Windows so it's not just for Windows it's for all. It has been long time I have seen final version since XAMPP 1.7.3, which was released in Dec'09. Though it is active but recent version are still in beta (it's too much, as it has been 2 years to a non-beta release).
It has flavors like Full, Lite and has plugins for Perl, Tomcat and many other goodies.
Finally: After all we can use Zend Server or The Uniform Server for Production, while WampServer and XAMPP are good choice to kick-start the development as they come with lot of goodies. Zend does not release upgrades for Zend Server CE as they are only available for Enterprise/Commercial Edition along with support and other things. But it should be fine, as even if you go for any other choice upgrades will be manual only. When I say manual it will be replacing the current package and setting up your database and web-application on newer one again.
Though installing Apache, MySQL and PHP separately is also important, which will help us learn how they all are tied together.
I do not say other WAMP bundles are not good, but these 4 I have used personally for years and I like them. There are many teams and developer communities working hard to prepare similar WAMP packages and I respect all their hard-work and efforts and I am grateful to them for making our life easy.
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