Hi I'm back. Been busy. I will try to relate some of my experiences in the last few months in later blogs.
I'd like to point out that one of the greatest services to the PHP community that Zend is providing is the free Zend Core for Oracle and Zend Core for DB2. The latest versions install PHP 5.1.6. The little known secret is that these 2 installers are perfect for MySQL as the mysql and mysqli extensions are included in the release.
Zend Core is the installer I would recommend to setup PHP in a Windows IIS environment because it has support for FastCGI with IIS. FastCGI is the only scalable and safe way of running PHP on IIS, because not all PHP extensions are thread-safe and there are global locks in multi-threaded mode that hurt PHP performance if don't use FastCGI.
The only minuses is that Zend Core currently doesn't include the postgresql extension, and you have to compile in extensions which are not included in the release.