Microsoft plans to submit a proposal for a faster internet protocol to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) -- the standards body currently in charge of producing the second-generation Hypertext Transfer Protocol (aka HTTP 2.0) -- called HTTP Speed+Mobility. The IETF is currently meeting this week to discuss the future of HTTP which may also consider Google's next-generation solution called SPDY (pronounced speedy).
Microsoft revealed its plans on Sunday in a blog, reporting that HTTP Speed+Mobility will emphasize performance improvements and security while at the same time accounting for the important needs of mobile devices and applications. That means not only should browser-based surfing get faster, but mobile apps too, as they're how people access web services in addition -- sometimes in place of -- web browsers.
"Improving HTTP should also make mobile better, particularly to ensure great battery life and low network cost on constrained devices," reads the draft submitted to the IETF. "People and their apps should stay in control of network access. Finally, to achieve rapid adoption, HTTP 2.0 needs to retain as much compatibility as possible with the existing Web infrastructure. Done right, HTTP 2.0 can help people connect their devices and applications to the Internet fast, reliably, and securely over a number of diverse networks, with great battery life and low cost."
The draft refers back to Google's separate submission SPDY which actually replaces the HTTP protocol. It handles the same tasks, but does so 50-percent faster. Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox already support SPDY, and several large websites -- including Google and Twitter -- dish out pages over SPDY where possible. Microsoft says its proposal builds on both the Google SPDY protocol, and the work the industry has done around the HTML5 WebSockets API.
"SPDY has done a great job raising awareness of web performance and taking a 'clean slate' approach to improving HTTP to make the Web faster," writes Microsoft’s Jean Paoli, General Manager of Interoperability Strategy . "The main departures from SPDY are to address the needs of mobile devices and applications."
Over on Google+, SPDY co-inventor Mike Belshe said that he welcomes Microsoft's IETF submission, saying that the company has a great crew of engineers and that their help in this problem space is "awesome" for the web.
"In their post, they imply that SPDY is not optimized for mobile, which is not true, he said. "SPDY is now over 3 years in the making with a lot of implementation knowledge and deployment expertise on both desktops and mobile. My current company, Twist, is a mobile apps company, and we're optimizing our mobile performance using SPDY. Given what other implementors have said about SPDY and mobile, I'd say its working pretty well. But it could always be better, of course."
"If Microsoft has some new ideas that prove to work, that's fantastic," he added. "The goal is not to take one vendor's implementation, but to aggregate the best concepts together and make the best protocol we can. I look forward to engaging more with Microsoft soon."
The IETF will likely take the best ideas out of all submissions and create a hybrid that's best for HTTP 2.0. There's a good chance we'll still type HTTP in our address bars for a while because that's what Web surfers have done for almost seventeen years.