This week begins face to face meetings at the IETF on how to approach HTTP 2.0 and improve the Internet. How the industry moves forward together on the next version of HTTP – how every application and service on the web communicates today – can positively impact user experience, operational and environmental costs, and even the battery life of the devices you carry around.
As part of this discussion of HTTP 2.0, Microsoft will submit to the IETF a proposal for “HTTP Speed+Mobility." The approach we propose focuses on all the web’s end users – emphasizing performance improvements and security while at the same time accounting for the important needs of mobile devices and applications.
Why HTTP 2.0?
Today’s HTTP has historical limitations based on what used to be good enough for the web. Because of this, the HTTPbis working group in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has approved a new charter to define HTTP “2.0” to address performance limitations with HTTP. The working group’s explicit goal is to keep compatibility with existing applications and scenarios, specifically to preserve the existing semantics of HTTP.
Why this approach?
Improving HTTP starts with speed. There is already broad consensus about the need to make web browsing much faster.
We think that apps—not just browsers—should get faster too. More and more, apps are how people access web services, in addition to their browser.
Improving HTTP should also make mobile better. For example, people want their mobile devices to have better battery life. HTTP 2.0 can help decrease the power consumption of network access. Mobile devices also give people a choice of networks with different costs and bandwidth limits. Embedded sensors and clients face similar issues. HTTP 2.0 can make this better.
This approach includes keeping people and their apps in control of network access. Specifically, the client remains in control over the content that it receives from the web. This extends a key attribute of the existing HTTP protocol that has served the Web well. The app or browser is in the best position to assess what the user is currently doing and what data is already locally available. This approach enables apps and browsers to innovate more freely, delivering the most relevant content to the user based on the user’s actual needs.
We think that rapid adoption of HTTP 2.0 is important. To make that happen, HTTP 2.0 needs to retain as much compatibility as possible with the existing Web infrastructure. Awareness of HTTP is built into nearly every switch, router, proxy, load balancer, and security system in use today. If the new protocol is “HTTP” in name only, upgrading all of this infrastructure would take too long. By building on existing web standards, the community can set HTTP 2.0 up for rapid adoption throughout the web.
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 HTTP Speed+Mobility proposal starts from both the Google SPDY protocol (a separate submission to the IETF for this discussion) and the work the industry has done around WebSockets.
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. The main departures from SPDY are to address the needs of mobile devices and applications.
We are looking forward to a vigorous, open discussion within the IETF around the design of HTTP 2.0. We are excited by the promise of an HTTP 2.0 that will serve the Internet for decades to come. As the effort progresses, we will continue to provide updates on this blog. Consistent with our other web standards engagements, we will also provide early implementations of the HTTP 2.0 specification on the HTML5 Labs site.
- Sandeep Singhal, Group Program Manager, Windows Core Networking
- Jean Paoli, General Manager, Interoperability Strategy