Monday, September 22, 2008

Did Google reverse engineer Windows?

Chrome antics: did Google reverse engineer Windows?
Author Peter Bright

Reverse engineering is when you take a product apart just to see how the product is made. This was an interesting article because we had just learned about this topic in our last class. We had also heard Bunnies speech of where he reverse engineered the Xbox. The question that this article proposes is whether Google’s new program copies the format taken from Windows. The author even goes as far to say that Google’s program reversed engineered Windows, which is strictly against Windows EULA.

The Google program that the author is referring to is called Chrome. Chrome is a brand new web browser, which is Google’s mind will offer more options for its customers. “There's the new V8 JavaScript virtual machine with its boasts of near-native code performance, the WebKit rendering engine that does all the hard work of understanding and displaying web pages, and (last but not least), Chrome's secure sandbox designed to minimize the impact of any security flaws that might exist in both the browser and plug-in alike states Bright about Chrome.”

First off the author looks into the new Chrome security architecture. He started off comparing how other web browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer among others feature a single process model. He explains that with a single process model you use one tab for all your work, so if something were to freeze up then you would be S.O.L.

Bright then goes into detail about how the new Vista and Internet Explorer browsers have already begun to expand from the single process model. Vista’s new technology allows more security when you enter “security zones.” If you enter one security zone then Vista will block access to other zones that are trying to get into your computer. The new Internet Explorer version 8 uses a multi-tab system, which has individual security for each new tab you open. “With IE8, one tab can crash and other tabs are unaffected” states Bright.

Bright then goes into the idea of DEP (Data Execution Prevention). DEP is a feature designed to prevent buffer overflows from being able to inject executable code into a process. To understand this concept you need to know the difference between readable and executable and/or rewritable. What Internet Explorer 8 has done is used DEP to make its programs readable and writable, not executable.

What Chrome has done is it has copied almost all of the features put in by Vista and Internet Explorer. It uses the tab per process method and it has incorporated DEP. Google claims that it did not reverse engineer anything and in fact they found their information on a website called

In conclusion this article was confusing to understand. Even though Google’s Chrome program looks to have reversed engineered and copied Vista and Internet Explorer, Chrome claims to have used info from a free use site. My take is that Microsoft opened their product to the public, so the only blame should go to Google’s creativity.


Patrick T said...

Well the whole reason behind reverse engineering any product is so that you can copy its features and put it back on the market as your own without it being provable that you did reverse engineer it.

I say that most products out there have been reverse engineered from something else, or remixed in other words.

So even if Google did copy windows then they are just using "Disney Creativity" by copying and adding their own touch.

Catherine Malcolm said...

If we go back to the whole idea behind Bunnie Huang's lecture, it's simple. Released products are exploited to it's users in all ways which are possible. In fact, even if the fact that google did in fact use reverse engineering, it should encourage companies like this to change. Just like how reverse engineering helps us to learn and modify, it should also encourage companies being "victimized" as a result of this engineering to evolve into something else. It seems silly that companies seem like they spend more time and money trying to stop reverse engineering rather than just changing their products.