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Microsoft stamps on HTTP 2.0's pedal, races to mobileville

Web titans pile aboard as protocol shifts up a gear

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The HTTP protocol - one of the web's foundation specifications - is getting a speed and security revamp.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is this week holding meetings on what it's calling HTTP 2.0, "a major new version" of the ubiquitous data transfer protocol. The changes apply to HTTPbis, the core of the specification.

The goals are simple: to make communications faster, more efficient, more secure and able to reflect contemporary trends in networking architectures.

Breaking that down, the IETF says that includes "significantly" improving performance for browsers and mobile devices, and reducing the need, for example, to use multiple TCP connections.

It's hoped that a standard can be submitted for ratification by July 2013. Among those chipping in is Microsoft, which will submit a proposal for something it's calling HTTP Speed+Mobility.

Microsoft general manager of interoperability strategy Jean Paoli, a co-inventor of XML, blogged here: "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."

Paoli said HTTP Speed+Mobility stems from the W3C's WebSockets for bi-directional communications and Google's SPDY protocol, which is a separate submission to the IETF to make the web faster. HTTP Speed+Mobility goes beyond Microsoft's work by adding mobile, he says.

Google describes SPDY as "an application-layer protocol for transporting content over the web, designed specifically for minimal latency". The search giant claims a 64 per cent reduction in page load time using SPDY. In addition to a specification of the protocol, Google has developed an SPDY-enabled version of its Chrome browser. ®

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