ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

Summary: It's been a while since Microsoft shared publicly anything new about its "Gazelle" browser research project. In checking up on Gazelle, I discovered a few interesting new tidbits, including its renaming (and expansion) into ServiceOS.

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It's been a while since Microsoft shared publicly anything new about its "Gazelle" browser research project.

Last we heard, Microsoft researchers were working on building a new kind of Web browser that would be more secure by isolating the browser from the operating system. I'd say the project is the closest thing Microsoft has to a direct competitor with Google's Chrome OS -- except for the fact that Microsoft isn't trying to pretend that some kind of operating-system-like layer is no longer needed by PCs and devices in a Web-app-centric world.

In checking up on Gazelle, I discovered a few interesting new tidbits. For one, Gazelle (formerly known as MashupOS) has morphed again and is now part of a research project known as ServiceOS. The focus of Gazelle was on security/protection; ServiceOS fleshout out the vision for what resource access and management would like like for Web applications. Two of the Microsoft researchers behind the project -- Helen Wang and Alex Moschuk --published late last year a white paper explaining the evolution of their new ServiceOS vision.

From an introduction to that paper: "Existing browsers rely on resource access control and sharing mechanisms built into traditional OSes. Unfortunately, such mechanisms are ill-suited for many complex web services, such as those embedding mashups of other web services."

Sounds like Google's premise with Chrome OS, right? Traditional OSes are unwieldy when it comes to running Web apps/services and are no longer needed?

Well, not exactly.

The ServiceOS platform "tightly integrates a multi-principal browsing architecture with the underlying OS," the authors explain. That means resource-access control and the sharing of system resources is built into the platform. The platform also includes "new abstractions that allow a web service to explicitly allocate and manage resources for any helper services they embed," they add.

The researchers have built a ServiceOS prototype that manages "a wide range of resources, including CPU, memory, network bandwidth, and devices like cameras microphones, or GPS." (It doesn't seem like the prototype is publicly available at this point.)

As always, it's worth noting that Microsoft Research projects may take years to become commercialized products and/or components of commercialized products (if they ever do). So it's not a good assumption to think ServiceOS will be part of IE 9 or Windows 8. But it is interesting that Microsoft is continuing to forge ahead with this concept....

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Networking, Operating Systems, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Me Too....

    Seems like Microsoft has to have an "answer" to Chrome and this is their attempt. Always have to protect the cash cows of Windows and Office. Let's see how they compete with Linux and Chrome in places like India and China that don't have the massive installed base of Windows. My bet is they'll either cut profit margins razor thin there or they'll end up an also-ran.

    And this comment is from a nothing-but-Microsoft user, not a Linux or Mac guy....
    bmgoodman
    • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

      @bmgoodman

      Contrary to what you may think, Indians like most of the world use Windows. Not necessarily paid though.

      But I think more Indians on a relative basis use an original OS compared to the Chinese..
      Rahul Mulchandani
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        @Rahul Mulchandani The topic of illegal use was too deep for these TalkBacks, but thank you for clarifying. I'm sure there are many, many illegal copies of Windows all over the world. While those copies are helping MS achieve platform 'lock in', I don't think that's going to keep the cash cows fat! :)
        bmgoodman
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        @Rahul Mulchandani

        We respect copyright in the future,not now!
        smllam86@...
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        Maybe 5 percent. It can't be that high.
        angel tenan
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

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        Proksi Pasang bck
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

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        Ndusel
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        Microsoft is a company of compromises. Primarily because they're just too big to know which end is actually which and the people in upper management aren't ever the ones that are actually getting their hands dirty.
        Ndusel
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        Regrettably..... it's a lot like the American Auto Industry. They have the very best engineers designing vehicles that never see the light of day. Because the people making the decisions have never ever rolled up their sleeves to see what innovation is really all about. Instead only making their decisions in terms of Dollars and Cents. The Ford Pinto Exploding Gas Tank kind of decisions!
        Ndusel
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        Apple on the hand has a leader that tends to micro manage every single aspect of the design to product launch steps all along the way. But it's seems he's had the best results in capitalizing on their innovations and getting them to market! wink
        Ndusel
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        There is really no reason, but it's own bureaucracy that keeps Microsoft toiling in the shadows of companies (including Google) that run their companies as a interconnected whole. instead of broken up into departments and then having the wrong people making the MONEY decisions!
        Ndusel
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        They used to think it was middle management that was the problem. Most of that middle management is now gone. So obviously that wasn't it. Microsoft is loaded with talent, but unless they get everyone thinking and acting together on the same page, we'll never see the brightest ideas make it into their products!
        Ndusel
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        It's not like like Microsoft to NOT release BETA software as a finished product. I mean, so what if it doesn't work, right. Vista didn't seem to REALLY harm the company image.
        Ndusel
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        It's time for them to start rapidly moving these things to commercialization. They have too much great technology sitting in<a href="http://www.accessmedicalbooks.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> accessmedicalbooks</font></a> from this we <a href="http://www.cartecampus.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">cartecampus</font></a> to get the <a href="http://www.internetparalaevangelizacion.org/"><font color="light&amp;height">internetparalaevangelizacion</font></a> will have any <a href="http://www.pcloshwdb.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> pcloshwdb</font></a> that can be <a href="http://www.estudielenco.net/"><font color="light&amp;height">estudielenco</font></a> from "research".
        Ndusel
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

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        Ndusel
      • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

        @Rahul Mulchandani Also, Microsoft has already committed to owning OS updates for WP7. They've adoped a completely new strategy since Windows Mobile. Handset makers and wireless carriers will no longer get to dictate which phones receive OS upgrades. Based on how well Microsoft treated Zune owners over the years.
        Arabalar
    • About China.....

      @bmgoodman http://gs.statcounter.com/#os-CN-daily-20091001-20100526

      The XP capital of the world.
      Lester Young
    • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

      I Love it, but...
      I'm tired of hearing about these research projects. It's time for them to start rapidly moving these things to commercialization. They have too much great technology sitting in "research".
      Ndusel
    • RE: ServiceOS: Microsoft's morphing browser-operating system project

      @bmgoodman That is really a big question. Google's servers are the heart of Google's business. And it has long been a FEATURE, a FEATURE, not a LOOPHOLE, that one could privately modify the GPL code they use to run their business. Of course web applications are obviously SaaS. But where does one draw the line between those applications and the servers that host them? For example, take an insurance company running open source on their back end servers. At some point they decide to put a customer facing front end on those servers so that customers can access their accounts over the Net. Does that suddenly make that whole kaboodle Saas? If so, I am not sure I am comfortable with AGPL. In fact, I am not sure I am comfortable with this concept anyway since it undercuts one of the few provisions that make GPL software highly attractive to businesses that are not engaged in reselling the software itself. It really compromises the spirit of the GPL in some ways.
      arabaoyunlari@...
  • I Love it, but...

    I'm tired of hearing about these research projects. It's time for them to start rapidly moving these things to commercialization. They have too much great technology sitting in "research".
    rjohn05