Microsoft's Gazelle A Future Browser, Not An OS

Without a doubt, Google's Chrome OS has sent shockwaves through the entire software industry. Even companies that are just somewhat related to the netbook/browser/open source fields are taking notice, and you can bet the biggest player (that'd be Microsoft) is watching every tiny footstep as the proposed operating system inches closer to reality.

No sooner than it was announced, however, those up-to-date on the inner workings in Redmond immediately began linking similarities between Chrome OS and something called "Gazelle." As the story goes, Gazelle is a deep-rooted project within Microsoft Research that has been, at least at one point, referred to a "browser OS." On the surface, that sure sounds a lot like Google's Chrome OS, particularly when you consider that Chrome is a browser.

The sleuths over at Ars Technica went digging into a lengthy Microsoft Research PDF on the matter, and while there are obviously a few things that could be seen as similar, the vast majority of it is notably different. In fact, Gazelle is more of an "experimental multi-principle OS for the Web" than a product that it plans on shipping in the near future. Furthermore, it's much less of an "OS" and much more of a "browser prototype that runs on Windows." So far as anyone outside of Microsoft can tell, Gazelle is just a research pawn for what could be the future of Internet browsing, using independent processes to run independent parts of the browsing experience.

Not to our surprise, some of this multi-process browsing is focused on providing more stability and more security all the wa around. In short, it prevents a hack of some sort from taking over an entire page as it's isolated to a single process, hopefully making the entire browsing process less of a risk. Of course, handling browsing in this sense requires lots of resources from the PC, and it's a good bet that Gazelle is there to curb energy waste. Ars confirms as much here:

"The Gazelle project casts aside that balance and aims to maximize security and stability by using more processes. Instead of just using a separate process for each site or tab, it will use separate processes for individual page content elements that originate from other domains. For example, if you have an iframe in a page, the iframe will be managed and rendered in its own process separate from the rest of the page."

Sadly, the idea of yet another new Web browser is way, way less enticing that yet another alternative to Windows XP on our netbooks. Frankly, we would've loved to find that Gazelle was indeed Microsoft's rival to Google's Chrome OS, but alas, it seems that's not to be. Of course, the suits at Microsoft could always start singing another tune and morph this into something that would actually compete, and we probably speak for most everyone reading when say: "Yeah, we sure hope so!"