Microsoft explains why an Edge webpage spawns so many Windows processes


Browsers are the focal point of using our PC these days, and if you’ve ever opened your Windows 10 task manager, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’ve taken over your PC, because the manager of tasks would be dominated by dozens of web browser processes. .

In a recent blog post, Microsoft explained exactly why a web page can cause a lot of Windows processes.

They note that modern browsers are built using a multi-process architecture, which means that the browser is divided into different processes.

  • Browser process: This is the main process, which helps manage windows and tabs, and controls the browser frame such as the address bar and the forward and back buttons. It also routes privileged access to utility processes such as network requests and file access.
  • Rendering process: These control how websites are displayed in a tab by executing code provided by the website. They handle HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), JavaScript, images, etc. The resource usage of each rendering process varies depending on the hosted content.
  • GPU process: This process is responsible for communicating with the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and handles all GPU tasks. The GPU is a piece of hardware that quickly performs graphics related calculations and sends the output to a monitor for display. Modern browsers use the GPU to render web pages quickly.
  • Utility processes: Audio playback, network service, video capture, data decoding, and collection manager are all handled by these processes, so Microsoft Edge can control and audit access to these resources and coordinate the use of system resources. global.
  • Plug-in process and extension process: Plug-in processes contain active plug-ins such as Adobe Flash, and extension processes contain active extensions. Each process runs the code provided by the plug-in or extension. The resource usage for each process varies depending on the code provided. Each process also has code that allows the plug-in or extension to communicate with the browser and render processes.
  • Crashpad manager process: This helps to track the health of different processes in Microsoft Edge. If Microsoft Edge crashes, this process will help the browser to capture and transmit crash reports to Microsoft servers. Microsoft uses these crash reports to find and fix crashes.

Even different elements on the same web page can have their own processes, for reliability and security reasons. If malware takes advantage of a security hole in one of the rendering processes, it is difficult for it to escape that process and affect another process.

Microsoft explains these benefits as follows:

Reinforced security:

The rendering process is the process most likely to be attacked as it is the process that interacts with the website. This process has low privileges and extremely restricted access to the operating system, so if malware took control of this process, it would be unable to take control of the machine. Communication between the render process and the browser process is limited and protected. It is difficult for malware to take advantage of it to exploit the browser process.

Besides, process isolation prevents one process from accessing the memory of another process, which also improves the security of a browser. Say, for example, you buy a shirt online and there is an ad on the site. The site you are on needs access to your credit card information to complete the transaction; however, the ad does not need to access this information. The ads are put in their own process so that even if the ad is compromised, it will not have easy access to your sensitive information.

Reliability

If a crash occurs on a web page, web application, extension, or plugin, only the process that experiences the crash will be affected, improving browser reliability. The rest of the browser, including most of the other tabs, will remain stable.

Accountability of resources

Isolating each process makes it easier to see in Task Manager which process is using the most resources and provides information about what is contributing to resource usage. Does Microsoft Edge use the most resources or is it a website, extension, or plugin? You can also see this information in Microsoft Edge’s internal task manager, which you can open by pressing Shift + Esc in Microsoft Edge or by going to the top corner of the browser and selecting Settings and more (…) > More tools > Browser Task Manager.

Readers can find out more at Microsoft here.


Comments are closed.