Traditionally, PHP development has always had a strong Linux focus. Most core developers were developing on Linux, and Windows “releases” of PHP, for a long time, were basically just nightly snapshots that had been made available to the public. Microsoft, having demonized open source software for a long time, decided at some point that they might be better off supporting PHP to run well on Windows, rather than seeing more and more customers switch to Linux to host web applications. This support has not only led to proper PHP releases for Windows, but also made PHP an officially supported piece of software on all current Windows operating systems.

PHP 7 features some Windows-related changes that are briefly described below. Unfortunately, not a lot of documentation has been made available on those features. The vast majority of productive PHP installations these days seems to run on Linux, even if some teams develop on Windows natively. A common pattern is to use a virtual machine for development, even if the system natively runs Windows.

With newer versions of Windows integrating a Linux kernel, and the increasing use of containers, the boundaries between the Windows and the Linux universe become more and more blurry anyway.