Mozilla delivers silent updating with Firefox 12 release

Patches 14 security bugs in the desktop browser, 19 in the mobile version

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"Firefox simplifies the update process for Windows users by removing the user account control dialog (UAC) pop-up while maintaining the security of your system," the company said in a Tuesday blog post announcing the release of Firefox 12. "Once a user gives explicit permission to Firefox on their first installation, they will not be prompted again for subsequent releases."

Skirting UAC pushes Firefox updates further into the background on Windows Vista and Windows 7 machines; both operating system demand users' approval before installing software.

While updating Firefox to version 12 requires a click in the UAC dialog on Vista and Windows 7, that should be the last time users see the prompt.

Users can restore UAC's interruption to Firefox updates if they wish by clearing a box in the "Advanced" section of the Options window.

Mozilla has just one more component on its silent update to-do list.

That piece, now scheduled to appear in either Firefox 13, which ships June 5, or Firefox 14, slated to release July 17, will apply the update entirely in the background so that the user no longer sees an update installation progress bar.

Called "background updating" by Mozilla, the process will seem invisible to users because the update is automatically applied, then staged in a different directory or folder than the current copy of the browser. The next time Firefox is launched, the staged directory swaps places with the active directory.

Mozilla has been chasing Google's Chrome, which has featured silent, behind-the-scenes updating, since the latter's 2008 debut.

The open-source developer has been working on silent updating for nearly two years. At one point, it thought it could add the feature to Firefox 4, which shipped in March 2011, but the company abandoned work when that version was delayed several times for other reasons. And late last year, Mozilla said it was shooting for silent updating in Firefox 10, which debuted in January 2012. Those plans were also scrapped.

Windows, Mac and Linux editions of Firefox 12 can be downloaded manually from Mozilla's site. Users running Firefox 4 or later will be offered the upgrade through the browser's own update mechanism.

The next version of Firefox is scheduled to ship June 5.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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