One of the cool things released earlier today by Microsoft was IIS Express – A lightweight but fully-featured and self-contained version of IIS 7.5. It runs on Windows XP and above, even if you already have IIS or another web server installed.
What’s really cool (I think) is it can be run a) from the command line, and b) from any directory. This makes it incredibly flexible. That said, I don’t want to have to fire up a command prompt every time I want to start a server instance in a particular directory… Wouldn’t it be much easier to have a right-click “IIS Express Website Here” context menu option in Windows Explorer? Of course it would :-)
I’ve thrown together a shell extension using some registry edits, adapted from original work here and here, so all due credit to Phil Haack and Tuna Toksoz. What it does is add an option to your Windows Explorer context menu to start IIS Express in the selected directory, using a random port number. You can then use the handy System Tray icon to launch the site in your favourite web browser.
There are two versions of the .reg file in the Zip file – one for 64bit Windows, and one for 32bit. Only the 64bit version has been tested (certified working on my machine), using a standard WPI installation of IIS Express. Only run the .reg file suitable for your platform. Use at your own risk – I am not responsible for anything which breaks!
UPDATE 18-Nov-2012: I’ve made a copy of the source over at GitHub, for those of you who can’t access the Dropbox link, or want to fork the code for Windows 8, etc. You can access the repository here: IIS Express Here on GitHub