HTTP/2–Through the looking glass

One of the things discussed at the MVP Summit this year was HTTP/2. The IIS group had a great session related to this upcoming protocol. Since this is being worked on across multiple companies to develop the new standard, we are able to blog about certain aspects of the protocol. The community is asking that people take an early look at the protocol. Test your applications. Try to find breaking changes so they can be addressed early in the process.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) works to produce high quality technical documents. The draft document for HTTP/2 is a great resource  to gather additional information related to this undertaking.

The Windows 10 Technical Preview supports HTTP/2 on the client and server side. I decided to spin up a cloud server on my Azure account to take this for a spin. To begin with, there are a few things required in order to test. The Web Server role has to be enabled. HTTP/2 also only works over the TLS cryptographic protocol so an SSL certificate has to be bound to the testing website.  I did not have to complete any of the additional steps in this blog post to ensure that HTTP/2 was enabled. Depending on the version of Technical Preview that you are using, you may need to set the registry key.

Since I want to take a look at all aspects of IIS on this version of Windows, I broke my cardinal rule of ‘Never enable all IIS Features’. The quick way to perform the install is by using PowerShell. I ran the command Add-WindowsFeature –IncludeAllSubFeature –IncludeManagementTools from Windows PowerShell. Once the installation completed, I launched IIS Manager so that I could bind an SSL certificate to the Default Web Site.

Once this was done, I opened Internet Explorer. I then pressed the F12 key to open the F12 Developer Tools so I could watch the network traffic. In the below screenshot, you can see the icon for Network. Click that icon and then click the Green start arrow. This will allow you to see the protocol that is being used between the client and the server.



Now that I had everything setup and ready to go, I navigated to https://localhost. The default IIS page is loaded over TLS and the network trace shows the protocol is HTTP2.



This is a quick way to verify that HTTP/2 is the negotiated protocol between the client and the server.

If you are interested in following the progress of the development of this protocol, here is a list of URLs that provide additional information and testing capabilities.

Terri is a Microsoft MVP (ASP .NET/IIS), an MCSA: Windows Server 2012, and a Cloud Administrator at OrcsWeb, a hosted server company providing managed hosting solutions

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