Change can be difficult sometimes

When we launched µTP and µTorrent v2.0 in February, we knew we had a long road ahead of us. Three months and three minor revisions later, we’ve seen great progress and have had a healthy dialogue across many constituents.  We don’t need to document the change log here, but it might serve to explore our expectations around the difficult nature of transformative change on the Internet.

There are sound engineering and technical reasons why the standards bodies move at their particular pace. Even with this well-established process we can point to only a few fundamental changes of note, despite over 5000 requests for comments (RFCs) now published. Most of the notable changes in the history of the Internet typically came hand in hand with some existential threat forcing change and the pain that comes with it. Examples like CIDR and BGP4 come to mind and even TCP itself was an emergency fix to the congestion collapse of the late 80s. Often, even in the presence of such a threat change may yet take many years to see broad deployment. IPv4 address space depletion is not a recent concern, and yet IPv6 struggles to enjoy broad deployment.

Why is that?  Well, simply put, change can be perilous. Seemingly innocuous changes can experience devastating unforeseen consequences once deployed in the wild. Many well publicized examples abound, like the ECN bit in the IP header that Microsoft once enabled by default, bricked many consumer home gateway devices. This is something from which ECN has never recovered. The Internet has become such a vast collection of technologies, architectures, operating systems, equipment and software that it is difficult to predict, let alone test for every eventuality any widely deployed solution will experience on the network.

So, we should not expect changes like µTP to come easy. At the end of the day, such change on the Internet is bound to be difficult and without question, will require a great deal of help and cooperation to be successful. Considering that our collective community (developers, users and admins) together can transform whole percentage points of global Internet traffic, there is an opportunity to make a difference few technologies, let alone such small companies can usually hope to imagine. As startups we should be thinking big and more than that, achieving big things.  So, we thank every user, every developer, every client, every admin and every ISP who joins us on this considerable journey.

– Eric –

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