The beta version of Apache Web server 2.0 has been completed, marking the availability of what is seen as the first major reworking of the popular software in some time. The upgrade is expected to make the software more accessible to users unfamiliar with it and to integrate better with other platforms. The update includes enhanced customization and usability features and will offer better speed, according to those who have worked on the beta. One of the open-source community's biggest success stories, Apache delivers content from many of the world's leading Web sites to the end user in what many in the industry describe as a stable, affordable fashion. Its adherents contend that Apache software sits on at least half of all Web servers. The Apache project began in 1995 as a result of a communal effort to develop a free, reliable Web server capable of handling thousands of users. The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) oversees the software's development and relies on volunteer efforts from programmers globally. This method of software development gives programmers a chance to work out kinks in their code but also requires a fair amount of time to deliver upgrades. Apache fans expressed their pleasure with the update to the current 1.3 version during the ApacheCon conference here Wednesday. "It is a massive reworking," said William Rowe, a member of the ASF and an employee of Covalent Technologies Inc. "The changes have allowed for the further evolution of Apache at a fairly rapid rate because the new underpinnings are much easier to build upon. Before, Apache was a bunch of very disconnected thoughts. 2.0 helps unify the thoughts and make Apache more approachable." Top on the list for most users were the introduction of Multiprocessing Modules (MPMs), the Apache Portable Run-Time (APR) and filters - all of which help make Apache easier to use and better at serving up Web content. The MPMs give developers more flexibility in handling requests because the technology makes it possible for the software to handle multiple processes, multiple threads and multiple requests at the same time. The MPMs hide specifics on the most efficient way for a server to deliver information to thousands of users, according to Rowe. This process means Apache eliminates bugs and holes that affected it in the past. Also high on the list for Apache fans was the introduction of APR. "The problem is that your Windows NT, your Mac OS X, your bug mainframes and Unix all have slightly different models of the way the system works," Rowe said. "Now, the core Apache server is the same for any platform, making it more portable." The new filters will allow modification of Web content for users, depending on their needs. A developer could use filters to change content quickly to different languages or transform a Web page into a new set of code with automated processes. Rowe expects that an accepted general release of Apache 2.0 could come within the next six months, bringing these new tools to users.