Meet Microsoft's New Secure Browser Model : Gazelle

You can't download it yet but Microsoft's new browser prototype, called Gazelle, could well be the software giant's answer to both Google domination and hackers' threat.

A paper, entitled The Multi-Principal OS Construction of the Gazelle Web Browser, was published by a hit team of engineers from Microsoft, the University of Illinois and Washington.

It introduces Gazelle as a secure web browser that is build as a multi-principal OS and the authors of the paper claim to have a dummy running on Internet Explorer, although it appears to be slower than IE7 for now.

The 20-page document describes Gazelle's browser kernel as being an operating system itself that "exclusively manages resource protection and sharing across website principals", all within 5000 lines of C# code.

The concept, the researchers say, is similar to Google Chrome's site instance in that pages being browsed run in their own processes and when something go wrong it doesn't affect the whole application.

However, there are two vital differences: Google considers subdomains as being the same website -, and would all be brought down if there's an issue with any one of them. This wouldn't be the case in Gazelle.

Secondly any embedded content would still be considered as a separate entity (or principal instance as the paper calls it. We have experience this kind of behaviour several times over the past few months with Google Chrome pages crashing because of adverts displayed in iFrame for example.

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Our Comments

Gazelle's ability to run securely and hopefully with more stability means that it should in the near future be a faster and better browser. It could also mean that Microsoft, pre-empting any EU judgement, could be preparing for a post Windows era where the browser plays a more important role.

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