It is no joke. You can install your own "webserer" with Windows and / or Linux + PHP + MySQL + ... +
in about 5 minutes depending on the source you use and how fast your connection and computer is.
Now you are able to test your webapplications locally before you put them on the web. You also have an excellent environment to teach yourself PHP / MySQL without waiting for your hoster to upgrade to the latest versions. You also find the latest Beta version.