By now you must have heard about the silent update feature that Mozilla is currently working on for the Firefox web browser. I first covered silent updates back in October of 2010 when Mozilla started to announce plans to integrate a better updating mechanism into the browser. The basic idea behind the move was to improve the updating process for the user. As of now, updates are applied to the browser on start up, which may prevent Firefox users from using the browser when it gets started on the system. Vista and Windows 7 users furthermore may see UAC prompts when Firefox is updated, which need to be resolved as well before updates can be applied.
Firefox Silent Updates
The silent update feature is made up of three core components, of which one is already integrated into the current stable version of the browser.
- Default Add-on compatibility - This feature is already integrated in all versions of the browser from Firefox 10 onwards. It basically assumes that Firefox add-ons are compatible, even though their maximum version compatibility may state otherwise.
- Mozilla Maintenance Service - The second component is a service under Windows, that is working in a similar fashion as Google Updater. This service works around the UAC prompt, so that updates require no additional user action when they are applied. This feature is planned for Firefox 12 which Mozilla aims to release at the end of April 2012.
- Background Updates - This is the third and final component. Updates will be installed while the browser is running once the component is included into Firefox. This keeps the start up time at usual levels, as add-ons have already been installed while the browser was running. The feature will land in Firefox 13 or 14.
Firefox users who do not want the Mozilla Maintenance Service on their system can block it in the Firefox options. To do that, they need to do the following:
- Click on Firefox > Options
- Switch To Advanced > Update in the Options window
- Locate Use a background service to install updates and uncheck the box.
It seems as if the service will be installed automatically. It is not really clear if this happens during an update, or only for new Firefox installations. If you select to uninstall it, it will not be installed again with future updates. If the service gets removed, Firefox will be updated as before.
You find more information about the silent update process in Firefox at Brian Bondy's blog.