Google advances multiple efforts to make the web faster

SPDY would replace the HTTP protocol with a new application-layer protocol for transporting content over the web

When you add up this week's top Google news, it paints a picture of a gargantuan, but immature, effort to make the Web faster. Google open sourced "Go" its experimental programming language that combines the speed of scripting languages with the speed and safety of compiled languages. It released an experimental replacement for HTTP known as "SPDY." Plus rumors are swirling that Chrome OS will be seen next week at last.

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Here are a few more details:

Google Go is a newly announced programming language created by Google and released as an open source project. Some experts say that Go's syntax is friendly and easy like Python or Ruby on Rails while remaining familiar enough to those who know C-based languages. But it's an experimental language for all that. And it's a less-than-easy task to build a following for a new language. Google needs to commit to Go for the long term, work hard at championing and strengthening it until other developers have some reason to take on the learning curve to work with it.

SPDY, pronounced "SPeeDY", is an another experiment. SPDY would replace the HTTP protocol with a new application-layer protocol for transporting content over the web. It's inventors say it is designed to minimize "latency through features such as multiplexed streams, request prioritization and HTTP header compression," according to the blog post announcing it. It hasn't completely scrapped HTTP, but it's not a mere extension either. The protocol still uses HTTP headers, but it overrides other parts of the protocol, such as connection management and data transfer formats.

At least one thing stands in SPDY's way: Microsoft. For starters, browser would need to support it. While Google can do that with Chrome and still has lots of financial sway with Mozilla, how would Google would convince the mighty Microsoft to add it to Internet Explorer? And IE is still the preferred browser for corporations and most Windows users.

There's another little issue, too. Google is one company, a for-profit vendor at that. For SPDY, or any alternative to HTTP, to go anywhere it would need to be under the guidance of the standards organization that oversees the Internet, the IETF.

Word has it, too, that the much hyped, but as yet to be delivered, Chrome OS is about to be seen next week. So says blog site TechCrunch citing unnamed sources. Chrome OS, like the Chrome browser, is Google's attempt to make the Web faster, in this case by creating an operating system geared for cloud computing and taking much of the application the burden off the client.

Google may have big plans for a faster Internet. But the road to turn any of these efforts, much less all of them, into winners is long and cannot be conquered alone.

Follow Julie Bort on Twitter.

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Julie Bort

Network World
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