Mozilla prepares to deploy semi-silent updates to Firefox

Plans to start making semi-silent upgrades default in Mozilla Firefox are underway and ready to become default with Firefox 30, which is expected to be released on June 10th.

On May 10th, a Mozilla engineering manager named Benjamin Smedberg, participated in a discussion where he mentioned that many users were unintentionally stuck on older insecure versions and would have liked to upgrade. Smedberg commented that "about 2% of Firefox profiles are getting "stuck" on older versions in each release cycle, at least back to Firefox 22."

Currently, major updates require things such as add-on compatibility checks. Smedberg mentioned that users on Firefox 3.6 and earlier will be served the major update as if it is a minor update, so that things like the add-on compatibility checks are avoided.

Smedberg mentioned that user preference will be respected, so "if the user has updates completely disabled in preferences, [Firefox] will not prompt for updates at all." He continued on to detail that if the manual updates option is selected in a user's preferences, then Firefox "will nag but not force-install the update."

Firefox versions 11-26 will be targeted in a slightly different way-- an add-on with a hotfix for bug 994882 will be distributed instead. Two methods of deploying the update are currently being considered: the first involves silently downloading the update, and then prompting users with a UAC dialogue on the next launch. If the user clicks "yes." which most would automatically do, then the latest version of Firefox will open instead of the older one they were expecting. If the user clicks "no," the old Firefox will open as normal, however a tab will open asking if the user wants to use the new Firefox. Refusing it is not permanent, and the user will continue to be nagged to use the latest version of Firefox

The other method of deployment skips over the sneaky nature of the former, and instead just asks the user whether or not they want to update before downloading the latest version.

This latest revelation comes only days after Mozilla announced that Firefox will include DRM, which has a lot of users unhappy. How users will react to this is a new issue altogether, given that this may mean that Australis, the UI that was birthed in the face of very vocal protest, will be forced on all users.

Source: Computerworld

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21 Comments

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Sly, sneaky, behind-the-back moves by vendors are never appreciated by users. What is wrong with being up-front? Is honesty such a foreign concept by business?

No thanks, I'll stick with Palemoon which refuses to do background updates and bugs me like the old Firefox's did. Plus it rips a lot of useless crap out of the browser, and the few optimizations are a welcome bonus.

They should adopt the webkit model. make a mozilla library and allow ports to different toolkits, and then let people write their own browsers based on those ports with firefox being the official one.
Much of the slowness is due to the UI being written in xul. This means that web forms like buttons and things won't be as fast as native widgets. So the web rendering will be affected and not just the application UI. They try to work around it by using hardware acceleration for XUL but it will only do so much. Actually the horrid australis tab animations are very snappy.

Edited by Hussam Al-tayeb, May 19 2014, 10:16am :

necrosis said,
About time.

How long has Chrome been doing this?

Chrome has done this since day one as it was designed this way.

Let me teach you a word: "quiet".
Saying "semi-silent" is similar to saying "semi-absolute", it makes no sense. If something is not silent, it's quiet, not semi-silent.

Misuse of the word silent annoys me too. There's no such thing as fairly silent or semi-silent. It's either silent or it isn't! :)

I am afraid its almost too late for firefox. at this point everyone I know used to use firefox switched to chrome. I am still using firefox (not as my main browser and only for some plugins), but really the last firefox version I enjoyed using was 3.x I am not sure which version but I hated it after 4.x that I just used custom skin. the browser has become slow. Even IE now is much better than Firefox.

trojan_market said,
I am afraid its almost too late for firefox. at this point everyone I know used to use firefox switched to chrome. I am still using firefox (not as my main browser and only for some plugins), but really the last firefox version I enjoyed using was 3.x I am not sure which version but I hated it after 4.x that I just used custom skin. the browser has become slow. Even IE now is much better than Firefox.

Firefox is a development tool and Tor Network browser at this point.

Funny, I've had the opposite anecdotal evidence. I've witnessed a few people switching from Chrome to Firefox for one reason or another. These days, I'm not even sure most could tell the difference.

I use both simultaneously and I can honestly say that one doesn't give me any more issues than another.

I just recently had to switch somebody from Chrome to IE because Chrome had too many issues on their system, yet I know other people that run it without issue, funny how these things can be. I've never had issues with Firefox on my system, but according to other people it's so slow/buggy that it barely works.

One of the best things Firefox did was add competition, that we even have a choice other than IE today is a good thing, the last thing we should want is to go back to the era where everybody just used a single browser.

Kushan said,
Funny, I've had the opposite anecdotal evidence. I've witnessed a few people switching from Chrome to Firefox for one reason or another. These days, I'm not even sure most could tell the difference.

I use both simultaneously and I can honestly say that one doesn't give me any more issues than another.

Indeed, I've seen the opposite trend as well in recent times. Initially a lot of people moved from Chrome to Firefox because Firefox had a lot of issues a couple of years ago (memory issues, slow, etc), but many of those issues are fixed now, and I think Firefox is perfectly competitive now.

Now that Firefox has fixed a lot of its issues, I'm gradually seeing a lot of people migrating back.

trojan_market said,
I am afraid its almost too late for firefox. at this point everyone I know used to use firefox switched to chrome...

That statement would make more sense a year or two ago but not so much today. Just in the IT department I work in three co-workers switched to Firefox when version 29 came out. They were feed up with various Chrome issues and liked the new Firefox look so tried it. All of them are now using it as their main browser.

IE 11 is better but still sucks compared to Firefox or Chrome...

I thought that's what the Maintenance Service was supposed to be for... and it was also supposed to get rid of UAC prompts?? How is the new 3 options (auto, prompt but not install, never check) different than the existing options?