Google seeks faster Web

Collaborative campaign might include new protocols or enhancements to improve outdated technology and enable activities like instantaneous watching of HD movies

Google has set a battle cry for the Internet: "Let's make the Web faster."

In a campaign launched late Tuesday afternoon, the company stressed the need for a cooperative effort to improve Web performance in areas such as protocols.

[ Google's effort could be boosted by protocols like the forthcoming HTML 5. ]

"We are excited to discuss what we've learned about Web performance with the Internet community, said Urs Hoelzle, Google senior vice president of operations, and Bill Coughran, senior vice president of engineering, in a blog post. "However, to optimize the speed of Web applications and make browsing the Web as fast as turning the pages of a magazine, we need to work together as a community to tackle some larger challenges that keep the Web slow and prevent it from delivering its full potential."

As part of the effort, Google is offering a Web site, code.google.com/speed, for Web developers that offers tutorials, tips, and performance tools.

"I think speed really does matter," said Google Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra in a video accompanying the campaign rollout. "And I think users are able to discern even very small differences in latency and speed."

The industry is just at the beginning of how fast the Web could be, he said. Such activities as watching high-definition movies, uploading pictures, and running complex JavaScript applications should be instantaneous, said Gundotra.

Google said it needs to work with others to move the Inernet forward. Efforts will involve collaborating with developers, ISPs and standards bodies and could involve developing enhancements or alternatives to TCP/IP and HTTP.

One area of particular focus is updating of protocols.

"Many protocols that power the Internet and the Web were developed when broadband and rich interactive Web apps were in their infancy. Networks have become much faster in the past 20 years, and by collaborating to update protocols such as HTML and TCP/IP, we can create a better Web experience for everyone," the Google officials said.

One example of a community effort cited by Google is development of the HTML 5 protocol, featuring AppCache for writing JavaScript-heavy Web applications to run instantly. Browser developers and communities need to keep focusing on JavaScript performance improvements, Google said.

New tools, such as Yahoo YSlow and Google Page Speed, are needed for Web developers to build faster, more responsive Web applications, according to Google. Company officials also cited low broadband penetration as an issue to be addressed by the industry.

Google's faster Web effort is "definitely worth it," said analyst Michael Cote of RedMonk. "It's a good foil to folks like Microsoft and Adobe who are going after the same set of people with their RIA (rich Internet applications) and HTML/AJAX platforms."

"Google has the luxury with their crazy advertising revenue to subsidize non-revenue-producing efforts like this well, which ultimately helps drive developers toward 'The Google Stack,' " Cote said.

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