The developers of PHP abandonded Apache in favour of IIS.
They might not think that way but the effect of their actions is the same.
Most developers use PHP for Web related programming. The same people use Apache for their Web server because it is so easy to install and runs on every computer. PHP 5.3 is the absolute minimum version of PHP for all new development. There are over two million more Webdevelopers using Windows than all the alternatives combined, plus many of the developers using Linux, Unix, and Apple Unix also use Windows for some oftheir work.
To be useful, you have to delover PHP5.3 on Windows under the standard Apache installation.
PHP decided to not let you use that combination. You have to stay with the obsolete PHP 5.2 or switch to IIS or switch to a non standard version of Apache froman unknown source.
IIS is out. If you make something work under IIS, you cannot transfer it reliably to anywhere else.
The weird Apache is out. You use the original everywhere else. You are notgoing to rebuild your whole computer and all your Web sites just because someone did something stupid at PHP.net.
Staying with PHP 5.2 is commercial suicide. You have to work with the versions your customers are installing.
I searched the PHP.net archive. The most recent version compatible with a normal Windows installation is 5.3.5. I guess we are stuck with 5.3.5 until PHP fix their code.
PHP blame their code change on Microsoft C++. They say Apache requires code compiled with Visual Studio version 6 and the PHP team want to use the Microsoft C++ 2008 runtime instead of the version 6. Being dependent of Microsoft code and versions is always a problem because Microsoft have to continually make artificial changes to force people intobuying upgrades. PHP should break free from their dependence on Microsoft.
There is a possibility Apache might one day provide two different downloads for Apache on Windows. PHP cannot afford to depend on an organisation as big as Apache changing as fast as PHP.
The Apache organisation is overrun with people who want to work on Java because the pay is better when you work on Java. There are many alternatives to PHP and most work on Apache. PHP has to push hard to stay in the lead. Staying compatible with Apache is one of the hard pushes they have to work at full time.
The PHP proponents could sponsor an Apache compilation for the Microsoft C++ 2008 runtime. They could also maintain the backward compatibility for a while longer.
The PHP developers say they are dropping compatibility with Windows XP but Windows XP was only recently replaced by Microsoft so why drop XP compatibility? Think about the timing. Computers are so reliable that you now replace them after five years instead of three. Five years ago everyone was switching from Microsoft Vista to Windows XP because Vista was a pig. Windows 7 is a workable replacement for XP but was only sold in bulk a couple of years ago and the XP computers from that year have another three years of life before replacement.
There are many reasons for maintaining compatibility with the standard installation of Apache. Developers are continually assaulted by software incompatibilities and drift towards the easiest options. PHP has now moved from the position of being the easiest option to one of the more difficult options. PHP use might continue to grow because there are more developers active every day but PHP's growth will slow down at a time when the market growth is speeding up and PHP's percentage of the market will shrink.