Along with its many technological advances, DotNetNuke 3.0 was also being groomed for use by entirely new stakeholders: Web Hosters. For a number of years, the popularity of Linux hosting has been growing at a far greater pace than Windows hosting. The instability arguments of early Microsoft web servers were beginning to lose their weight as Microsoft released more resilient and higher-quality server operating systems. Windows Server 2003 had finally shed its clunky Windows NT 4.0 roots and was a true force to be reckoned with. Aside from the obvious economic licensing reasons, there was another clear reason why Hosters were still favoring Linux over Windows for their clients: the availability of end-user applications.
The Linux platform had long been blessed with a plethora of open source applications running on the Apache web server, built with languages such as PHP, Perl, and Python, and leveraging open source databases such as mySQL, (The combination of these technologies is commonly referred to as LAMP.) The Windows platform was really lacking in this area and was desperately in need of applications to fill this void.
For DotNetNuke to take advantage of this opportunity, it needed a usability over-haul to transform it from a niche developer-oriented framework to a polished end-user product. This included a usability enhancement from both the portal administration as well as the web host perspectives. Since Rob Howard left Microsoft in June 2004, my primary Microsoft contact was Shawn Nandi. Shawn did a great job of drawing upon his usability background at Microsoft to come up with suggestions to improve the DotNetNuke end-user experience. Portal administrators received a multi-lingual user interface with both field-level and module-level help. Enhanced management functions were added in key locations to improve the intuitive nature of the application. Web Hosters received a customizable installation mechanism. In addition, the application underwent a security review to enable it to run in a Medium Trust — Code Access Security (CAS) environment. The end result was a powerful open source, web-application framework that could compete with the open source products on other platforms and offer Web Hosters a viable Windows alternative for their clients.