Flash fails to notify about new version

Being skeptical of newly released software is the Defensive Computing thing to do. So, at the end of March, when Adobe updated the Flash Player on Windows, to allow automatic installation of new versions, I held back.

Instead of allowing the automatic update, I opted for the middle ground, to simply be notified of the new version. I wanted to get my feet wet before trusting the new scheme.

You can see this choice below in a screenshot of the Flash Player Settings manager (found in the Windows Control Panel).

flash_updater_ctl_panel_applet.jpg

Then, in early May, the Flash Player was updated to fix security problems and I was left to learn about it on my own. There was no notification on my Windows 7 computer of an available update. The next day, still no notice; and the silence continued for a third day before I looked into it in detail.

For the most part, I confine my Flash usage to Google's Chrome browser, because Chrome does an excellent job of updating to new versions of Flash. 

But, being curious about the new updating scheme, I had installed version 11.2.202.233 of the Flash Player into Firefox 12 and waited for the next update  (I never use Internet Explorer).

The version I was waiting for, (11.2.202.235) fixed a slew of security problems. Everyone knew the prior version was buggy. Even the Mozilla Plugin Checker reported that the installed version was outdated. But still, nothing from Adobe.

Perhaps I missed the notification? I reviewed what I could find on how users are notified. It is, apparently, a secret.

In a blog posting from the end of March 2012, when self-updating on Windows was announced, Peleus Uhley of Adobe said nothing about it. At the same time, Stephen Pohl of Adobe also avoided the subject in two articles, Hello, Adobe Flash Player Background Updater (Windows)! and  Introducing Adobe Flash Player Background Updater for Windows.  

Still another Adobe document, Flash Player background updates, from May 1st says that the "Adobe Flash Player regularly checks for important updates and notifies you when these updates are available", but leaves out the "how" part.

Why the secrecy? Why no screen shots of the notification message? If anyone has found this documented somewhere, or has a screen shot of the new release notification, please leave a comment below or email me.

I suspected that the update checking was not running at all. 

According to Uhley of Adobe

 ... we have set the new background updater to check for updates once an hour until it gets a response from Adobe.    If the response says there is no new update, then it will wait 24 hours before checking again. We accomplish this   through the Windows Task Scheduler ...  

Sure enough, the Windows Task Sheduler on my PC runs the Flash Updater at 7:37pm and every hour afterwards.     

flash_updater_schedule.jpg

But, has it actually been running? As you can see in the screen shot above, the History was disabled, so I couldn't tell. To be sure, I ran the scheduled Flash Player Updater task manually by right clicking on it and opting to "Run" (below). 

flash_updater_run_manually.jpg

Still nothing; no notification and no updated software.

I enabled the History function in the Task Scheduler and could see that the task had indeed run.

flash_updater_history.jpg

It's buggy.  

At this point, it was three days since the latest Flash Player had been released. If self-updating was a widespread problem, it would have made the news. It must be working for everyone else.

As they say, if you can't beat them, join them. I go back to the Flash Player Settings manager and opt for automatic installation rather than just notification.

An hour later, Firefox is running the new version of the Flash Player.

I've had enough of this however, and remove the Flash Player from Firefox. I'm sticking with the tried and true, mature, debugged, Flash updating offered by Chrome.  

One less thing for the computer to do every hour.

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