About 2,600 websites are already running Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Server 2008, a small but increasing number that indicates rising interest in the operating system (OS), according to new statistics from Netcraft.

Microsoft is now using Windows Server 2008 and its Internet Information Server (IIS) 7.0 for its main website,, said Colin Phipps, internet security services developer at Netcraft, which releases a monthly survey on what OSs are being used for web hosting.

The move means Windows Server 2008 is "production-ready for Microsoft," Phipps said, but "it's different when you have the Microsoft engineering team behind a website. They can pick up the phone and immediately get the engineer who worked on it".

A majority of the 2,600 sites, however, are not run by Microsoft, which would indicate developers are exploring the beta versions of Windows Server 2008, Phipps said. Still, the number of sites using the new OS is tiny in proportion to Netcraft's survey, which queried some 122 million websites.

The Apache web server came top, used by 53.7% of sites, with Microsoft products following at 31.8%, Netcraft's survey said.

Interestingly, Netcraft placed Google in third at 3.9%. While Google doesn't have an OS, "Google's services are an increasingly popular alternative platform for running a blog or simple website or content that would have formerly been hosted on a desktop or networked file system," according to Netcraft's blog.

Phipps expects use of Windows Server 2008 will rise over the coming months. Microsoft released the latest beta version of the server, formerly codenamed Longhorn, on Tuesday, adding the ability to use IIS. Windows Server 2008 is expected to be released by the end of this year.