Tracking Microsoft Research projects is a tricky business.
Take "Gazelle," for example.
Gazelle, according to a new Microsoft technical report, is a "secure web browser constructed as a multi-principal OS." I'm betting Microsoft will show off Gazelle at its TechFest '09 research fair, which opens in Redmond on February 24. (The first day of TechFest is primarily for the press and analysts; the rest of the week, it is geared toward Microsoft employees.)
Gazelle is actually the new name for a project Microsoft demonstrated last year at its TechFest Research fair under the codename "MashupOS." I still don't thoroughly understand what Gazelle has that IE 8, Chrome, Opera and other current browsers don't -- other than an operating system kernel that "exclusively manages resource protection and sharing across web site principals." (Go here for a slightly more understandable explanation of what Microsoft Research is attempting to do in the browser-security space.)
According to the research paper, Helen Wang and other Microsoft researchers have built a Gazelle demo:
Microsoft researchers are quick to note that they make no promises about how, when and if their research projects will become standalone products or parts of other commercial products. But I still like keeping tabs on them, given that years after an MSR project debuts under one codename, it may end up shipping with an entirely different one. (PlayTable + several years of development + multiple codenames ultimately yielded Surface, for instance.)
When will Gazelle/MashupOS yield a new browser, or at least a more secure IE? It's anyone's guess -- just like it is when trying to predict when any of Microsoft Research's developments will find a home in one or more product groups....