Firefox fans will soon experience the security benefits of silent software updates, the Web browser's maker, Mozilla, announced yesterday (March 15).
In a post to its Hacks Mozilla blog, Mozilla "technical evangelist" Robert Nyman discussed a host of new features the company will incorporate into Firefox in 2012. Chief among those are silent updates, which will update the browser's software in the background, without notifying the user with an update dialog box and without requiring a lengthy delay upon restart.
This new feature is designed "to cater to update fatigue," Nyman wrote. Like Google Chrome, the only other Web browser currently running silent updates, Mozilla will take the responsibility to update away from the end users, and ensure they are always running the most up-to-date version of the Web browser.
All nonactive browser upgrade components will be installed during the user's active session; the remaining updates will be installed the next time the user reloads Firefox.
Silent updates are currently in development; parts of the feature are set to be included in Firefox 12, with additional enhancements in version 13, scheduled for a June 5 release. Mozilla upgrades Firefox every six weeks; the last upgrade, to version 11, was released March 13.
In a Mozilla Wiki page outlining the silent update feature, Mozilla engineers used a hypothetical test case to explain the reasoning behind the move.
"Yesterday, Johnny was about to leave home to go to work but he wanted to check his Facebook one last time before heading out the door," Mozilla wrote. "He launched Firefox but rather than being taken right to Facebook, he was presented with a 15 second delay, staring at an updater progress dialog. It wasn't terribly long, but after seeing this same thing happen every six weeks, Johnny decided he hated Firefox and moved to IE."