I've been using Microsoft's programing and platform tools for many years. My previous start up (I'll refer to as "Company X") is completely based Microsoft technology (with the exception of some Flash on the front end). A small farm of Windows 2003 servers, running IIS .NET applications written in C# with a gigantic Microsoft SQL server behind the whole thing. This, along with bandwidth, costs us a small fortune in licenses. I've been thinking about getting my Microsoft Certified Professional Developer certification for years... I just wish I could get a bit of a kickback from them on the certification costs considering how many zillions of dollars I've made them over the years (Bill, are you listening!!!)
I'm not a stick in the mud, but I have to admit I have been a bit wary of "Open Source" tools over the years. I remember the good old days of trying to get a few programmers to work together without management. You got an interface only a geek could love written in code no one could read and God help you if you found a bug.
But since Microsoft ain't givin' it away, open source is the way to go. Let's just see how far I can stretch my Microsoft based technical skills before they snap.
I've chosen to write my application in PHP on an Apache web server with a MySQL back end. PHP seems very similar to "classic" Microsoft ASP pages and I've started to read about the Zend Framework that should remove spaghetti code from the start. I'm familiar enough with Apache to be able to configure it and get it up and running and MySQL has gone from a neat little toy to quite a powerful database. MySQL adding stored procedures as a feature on the 5.x pushed me over the edge on doubting this platform (sure the other fancy features like clusters, large scale database, monitoring tools, etc. are important... but if your database can't even create stored procedures then you are not a REAL development platform in my humble opinion).
I'm not quite ready to jump ship from my trusty Windows operating system quite yet. I have installed Apache, MySQL and PHP on my woefully underpowered home computer. Linux will have to wait until my brain stops throbbing.
Web Server (Apache): $0
Programing Language (PHP): $0
Database (MySQL - Community Version with GUI tools): $0
Total cost of project to date: $7.99