Mozilla to change update policy for old Firefox installations

Martin Brinkmann
May 13, 2014

Most Firefox installations get updated automatically whenever a new version of the web browser is released. This is true for all channels the browser is offered in and the default way updates are handled.

It makes sense in many ways, considering that new versions patch security vulnerabilities among other things which makes old versions of Firefox vulnerable to exploits targeting those security issues.

Firefox users can change if and how Firefox is updated in the browser however. Some switch the preference to manual instead, which notifies about new updates but does not install those on the system automatically. Others may block updates from being deployed at all.

Some users don't want their version of Firefox updated because they like the current version, while others are not updated because the update is stuck somehow and won't complete properly.

According to Mozilla, quite a few installations are not updated yet because updates are not applied properly, with Firefox 3.6.x and Firefox 12 making up the largest installations without updates.

Mozilla plans to change the update policy for old Firefox installations soon, likely with the release of Firefox 30 or soon thereafter.


As far as Firefox 3.6 installations are concerned, updates will be advertised as minor instead of major. The effect is that the update billboard is not displayed during the update, and that add-on compatibility checks are disabled as well. Add-ons that are incompatible with the new version will be disabled automatically as a consequence.

A hotfix add-on will be installed on Firefox 11 to Firefox 26 systems -- but not Firefox ESR releases -- with the purpose of informing users that their version of Firefox is outdated and requires updating.

Firefox users on those versions can download the installation package to update the browser directly from the notification then.

The update does not have to be installed, but users will be notified in regular intervals about it from that point on.

According to Mozilla, between 50% to 70% of users do not know that they are using an outdated version of the browser. That's the main reason why a hotfix add-on is being used to notify users about it and deliver the update to those systems, apart from the fact that Mozilla needs information why those applications do not get updated properly.

Firefox users who have configured the browser to block updates won't be affected by this. Mozilla honors the setting and won't force updates in this case.

The organization will focus its effort son the Windows operating system in this quarter only. If the process is successful, it will be made available for Mac systems as well at a later point in time.

Part of the project tries to analyze why Firefox installations get stuck on a particular version by collecting anonymous update logs from systems on which installations are stuck on an outdated version.

If you are using an older version of Firefox and do not want to be updated or nagged, make sure you have set the update preference to "never check for updates" in the Firefox Options under Advanced  > Update.

firefox update

You can follow the discussion about the update project on Google Groups. (via Sören)

Mozilla to change update policy for old Firefox installations
Article Name
Mozilla to change update policy for old Firefox installations
Mozilla will change the update policy for old Firefox versions to update those versions to the latest one.

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. clas said on May 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    i always enjoy firefox yaks. i wont be changing anything soon. keeping my old version with all my addons that work so well. running sandboxed and having no problems at all with firefox. no updates anymore for me just because they are trying to justify their jobs. but i love to hear everyones opinion. thanks martin

  2. Tam said on May 13, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    I need LJ login. The new update removed it. Therefore, as far as this tech challenged person can see, I don’t need the new update. Please stop with the annoying and useless bells and whistles, Firefox.

  3. 桜 said on May 13, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    “A hotfix add-on will be installed on Firefox 11 to Firefox 26”

    I suppose it means this↓↓↓

    There are no reviews about it at the moment. Does anybody have it installed already?

    “Fixes for selected issues” is not defined. If it is security issues, it is always a good thing. However, it will be nice to know what is being installed by the add-on before it is installed.

  4. Uhtred said on May 13, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I think resource use will be a big determining factor in reasons why people don’t upgrade. Firefox’s ram consumption has slowly crept up to very high levels compared to what it was.

    Bit concerned about the automatic removing apps idea. I can see reason for it if you use the internet, but what about those who use an older version of firefox and some of its apps for jobs that do not require internet traffic? Wouldn’t it be nicer for firefox to say:
    Your version is out of date choose either
    …keep current settings / apps but disable internet use for this version (you can install another version of firefox for internet)
    …Replace current version with up to date edition of firefox and browse internet safely (some of your existing apps may not be compatible)

    something like that maybe?

    “According to Mozilla, between 50% to 70% of users do not know that they are using an outdated version of the browser” and will probably be even less with the new interface change. If you don’t enable the menu bar (so that you can access help/about/ ) then your chances of finding out which version you are on become quite slim. Might be nice if they put info in options next to the upgrade options something like

    you are running firefox version xyz
    the current version is xyz
    [] automatically install.updates
    [] notify me about updates
    [] never update etc

  5. Kendrick said on May 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Primary problem with Mozilla Firefox is that it issues big, one-size-fits-all updates to FireFox users.

    Secondly, it constantly issues these big updates with new, complex “features”.

    Security updates (only) should be available separately to users who are satisfied with their existing FireFox version.

    I want a basic, reliable & secure web browser — without exotic “feature” in constant turmoil of introduction and modification. FireFox used to be that browser I wanted — and happily used for so many years.

    Don’t know what Mozilla’s business model is these days, but they have lost their way.

    1. Nekomancer said on May 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

      You’re quite right, Kendrick – they have lost their way and something quite ugly has happened to their business model. If I didn’t know better (actually, I don’t), I’d be inclined to say they moved their headquarters to the U.S. and hired a Google goon to take care of business.

      The comments I’ve most read are saying, “if I’d wanted Chrome, I’d have stayed with Chrome”. As usual, Mozilla aren’t listening and are pretending everything’s sunshine and rainbows and happily ever after; if that isn’t an indication of being out of touch with reality, I don’t know what is.

      They lie about user feedback and claim that “users wanted these changes”. Lying is a Google strategy that never did belong to Mozilla. I, for one, have abandoned their sinking ship.

    2. Andrea said on May 14, 2014 at 12:43 am

      I agree. Every time Mozilla changes things, it’s not for the better…….same with other programs & I am sick of it. I can’t find this & I can’t find that! Some people didn’t like the orange box BUT I DID! I can’t, even, find what version I have. It was easy before. I assume I have version 29 since I was getting automatic updates ’til today. I changed it. I hate this version. It freezes constantly. Firefox use to be my favorite browser, but I, now, hate it!

      1. exrelayman said on May 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm

        To find your Firefox version, press alt to activate the menu toolbar, click help, click about. Careful! – if your setting is for automatic update (as mentioned in the article) you will be updated just because you looked!

    3. Dave said on May 13, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      I agree. Firefox is full of crap. Crap which should be optional in the installer, and packaged in add-ons so that it can be removed at any time. I’d like Martin to compile a list of crap that’s in Firefox that should be optional. I’ll start:

      Tab Groups (or whatever it’s called)
      Firefox Sync
      Parental controls

      1. Sören Hentzschel said on May 13, 2014 at 10:49 pm

        Appster, seriously, one year has to be enough. The web continues to evolve and browsers have to support new web standards. Several years without major update of your browser is no option. Firefox is the most customizable browser. You can do whatever you want. And one year is enough time to customize your browser. And don’t compare Firefox with IE, it’s not possible to compare the update strategies of Firefox as browser and IE as part of Windows.

    4. Sören Hentzschel said on May 13, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      “Security updates (only) should be available separately to users who are satisfied with their existing FireFox version”

      -> ESR version of Firefox.

      1. Appster said on May 13, 2014 at 10:25 pm

        Sören; we both know that the ESR-version of Firefox is only supported for one year after its release. Seriously, are you kidding us? The Internet Explorer and Safari are or have been supported for several years, so why should I use Firefox if I am not willing to upgrade all the time? There is no reason for that at all.
        Have a nice day.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.