Normally Microsoft only steals embraces things of Google’s that Google isn’t looking to hand out for free while snubbing Google on the things they create, open source and free, to make the web better, like WebP and SPDY, but things that would only make a big impact if all the major players bothered to adopt them. But Microsoft is breaking character and has confirmed incorporation of support for the protocol in their next iteration of Internet Explorer, which is good news because now websites like ours have more reason to flip the switch on something that would lower our site’s load latency, the amount of bytes, individual requests and connections your browser needs to make to load a page, better everything – but not compellingly worthwhile to most when a major player like IE doesn’t support it. And now it will. Great.

If you’ve got Android and would like to see for yourself, install Chrome for Android Beta and follow these instructions which will let you browse any site, whether it supports SPDY or not, through Google’s SPDY proxy servers which basically translate the sites you visit on the fly into an awesome SPDY package to stream to you. You may feel a big difference off the bat regardless of your connection speed, and you can also check the browser’s stats to see how many bytes this SPDY thing saved you. To some extent that would reflect what the web would be like with everybody using SPDY and, hopefully one day, other nice things… like WebP.

While I don’t use Internet Explorer except to see how screwed up my sites look to IE users, I’m pleased with Microsoft about this nonetheless as it will benefit the web and it is a sign that they are willing to put aside their pride, or whatever it is that tends to make them not do such things, and get with the damn program. Paul Thurrott’s scoop here, his source here, more on SPDY on Google and Wikipedia, and if you run your own server, get started here. Other things Google’s done to make the web better right here.

While I’m obsessed with it, yes I realize most of you don’t care about this SPDY thing, so I guess the real news here is Microsoft opening up a bit and putting everyone’s interests on their radar of things to consider doing even though they involve more cooperation than litigation. Kudos, Microsoft. Big fan.

Doug Simmons

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Biographical info.. hmm. I have a history of not being able to strike the balance between what is “safe” to put into these forms and what is, in my mind at least, funny. Can’t do it.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Microsoft is changed. They agreed to support CalDAV, WebGL and now SPDY. OTOH, Google is behaving like the Microsoft of 90s.

  2. Why wouldn’t they support open and free standards like CalDAV, CardDAV or IMAP?

    Not exactly a lot of bloat, not completely obscure, nor brand new and untested. If you don’t have an Exchange server to use, and some people in the world who buy Microsoft things are in that position, you use things like this. It’s a mixture of stupid and arrogant to, at any point, deny your customers the ability to use these major protocols, as if everyone in the world should be using Microsoft’s nonfree closed server software to communicate and stay organized.

    As for SPDY though, there isn’t that much incentive for Microsoft to do it, it struck me as somewhat of a selfless thing, kind of a public service to the web to let this thing, which will make things better, take off. It’s a pretty pure form of progress.

    WebP would be too, but let’s not get sidetracked.

  3. By the way, Microsoft owns a 1.6% piece of Facebook, a chunk that’s presently worth over a billion dollars, which they bought in 2007 in exchange for some sort of ad placement deal. Microsoft is in the top ten of greatest Facebook shareholders, so one could say they have a close relationship. Fortunately, that did not get in Facebook’s way of rolling out SPDY to all supporting browsers vising its site last month. As the protocol is making their website perhaps 64% faster (also more secure) for the roughly 50% of its visitors whose browsers support SPDY, it’s in Facebook’s interest, and to an extent therefore Microsoft’s, that Microsoft roll out IE support. Lots of IE users use lots of Google services, many of which are served over SPDY, which is spreading around the server world well outside of Facebook and Google. 
    Facebook and Google are the top two most popular websites in the world. They both employ SPDY. They perform better, consume less resources and are more secure as a result. 
    Microsoft’s IE continues to descend in popularity. What could it (not to mention Bing, which doesn’t even force HTTPS connections yet, let alone SPDY) possibly stand to gain by continuing to turn its back on SPDY, and WebP for that matter? And not implementing it on their own servers, and those of their friends like Yahoo? Do you picture people preferring the browsers (and the websites) they heard go much faster when on the most popular sites on the web, or IE? Google’s Chrome Web Store saves several terabytes of data a day by using WebP, for example. 
    Not to mention the bandwidth savings for mobile phones, with those pesky monthly caps.
    Things like SPDY and WebP are not just works in progress but they are progress seen right now, Microsoft should get over the fact that Google is to thank for such things and grab everything they can from Google Code and announce it proudly.

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