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19 March 2012, 10:57

Firefox 12 beta introduces automatic updates

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Firefox UAC Prompt
Zoom Users should only see one initial UAC prompt with the new version of Firefox
The beta version of Firefox 12 is bringing a new update system to Mozilla's browser that addresses the problems of ensuring users install security updates: silent updates. A standalone update process will enable the next Firefox version to install updates to the browser without requiring user interaction.

Up to version 11, Firefox on Windows would pop up a User Account Control (UAC) warning, whenever an update to the browser had been downloaded and was trying to install itself. Since Mozilla has greatly increased the number of updates to Firefox, this has started to annoy many Windows users. By moving the update system into a standalone process, Firefox 12 will be able to silently update itself behind the scenes, much like Google's Chrome browser has been doing ever since it was launched.

The silent updates should enhance the general security of Firefox while at the same time reducing annoyances for the user. Furthermore, the browser will not ask for a reboot in the first 24 hours after it has installed an update. Mozilla does point out, however, that users who want to be in control of the process can still opt in to be prompted by Firefox for each update. The new update service will also be implemented to take care of updates for other Mozilla software such as Thunderbird, and will work for all release channels of Firefox (Released, Beta, Aurora and Nightly Builds).

Other improvements in the beta version of Firefox 12 include better HTML5 audio and video playback controls with full-screen mode, a number of enhancements to the built-in developer tools and the ability to import settings from Chrome.

More information on the changes in the Firefox 12 beta can be found in Mozilla's technical release notes and users can try the new experimental version from the Firefox Beta channel. Firefox binaries are released under the Mozilla Firefox End-User Software License Agreement and the source code is released under disjunctive tri-licensing that includes the Mozilla Public Licence, GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1.

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