One of our favorite Chrome features is finally making its way into Firefox 4, automatic updates. This might not sound like a huge breakthrough, but the little discussed feature is responsible for 97 percent of Chrome users running the most up-to date version of the browser within three weeks of its release. The concept is to simply download updates silently in the background when bandwidth is not being otherwise used, and then apply the patch automatically when the browser is started. Users who never restart their browsers will be given a gentle reminder after a few weeks.
In an age where zero day security vulnerabilities are the norm, and major releases drop every six weeks, it’s easy to understand why users would grow fatigued with giving the thumbs up for every update. Unlike Chrome however, Mozilla claims they will allow Firefox users to turn off the automatic updating feature, or to have it prompt only on major updates. This is a concession for those who aren’t comfortable with the idea of software automatically installing itself in the background, or for those that just like to always know what’s going on.
The auto-update feature will make its debut in the beta build of Firefox 4 soon, with the Mac and Linux versions getting the same treatment sometime before final release.