In February of this year, Microsoft Research released a paper (PDF) about a new web browser they’re calling “Gazelle,” which is really less of a browser and more like an operating system. According to the paper, what makes Gazelle different than any other browsers out there today is how it’s able to exclusively control and mange the system’s resources.
Now, in a new article on Microsoft Research’s site, we get a little more insight about what exactly Gazelle can do.
One of the features of Gazelle is its ability to manage devices. Unlike with other browsers, where device management takes place (like accessing a webcam for instance), it’s done via plugin. In the Gazelle model, the browser kernel itself “protects principals from one another and from the host machine by exclusively managing access to computer resources, enforcing policies, handling interprincipal communications, and providing consistent, systematic access to computing devices.”
The kernel also exclusively manages the principles by placing them in a separate protection domain using an OS process. That way, if misbehaving code arises it only affects its own protection domain, leaving everything else including the kernel and host system intact.
Sadly for us, though, Gazelle is not a project that will develop into a workable prototype - it’s just research. “I would like to see Web applications achieve function and quality parity with desktop apps,” says Helen J. Wang, senior researcher in he Systems and Networking group at Microsoft Research Redmond. “That’s the ultimate goal of this research.”