One of the minor annoyances of computer usage is needing to restart your computer. Yeah, it doesn’t take too long – especially if you have a speedy SSD drive – but it’s still downtime that interrupts your previously scheduled Skyrim time. Microsoft has been working to reduce the number of restarts required to run a computer, buy hey, they still need to happen every now and again. Windows 8 will make some changes to the Windows Update and automatic restart process to make restarts as infrequent and unobtrusive as possible.
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.
Google recently updated Chrome with the ability to automatically update the Adobe Flash plug-in. In an upcoming revision, Google's browser will gain power over other plug-ins as well. The out of date plug-ins will be blocked from working, while also offering the option to assist the user in updating them. Vulnerabilities in plug-ins are one of the most often exploited security issues.
The search giant did not have an approximate date users could expect to see the feature added. The browser will also eventually have the ability to determine when a plug-in is being run under suspicious circumstances. When a plug-in is rarely used, it's activation could be a sign of malicious behavior. Chrome could be able to take not of this and notify the user.
Chrome has a beta and developer build channel, so we're likely to get some warning before this feature hits the majority of users. The changes don't sound too intrusive, and we like the idea of all our plug-ins being kept up to date automatically.
InfoWorld reports that Microsoft will release Windows XP SP3 to Windows Update starting Thursday, July 10. If you don't have SP3 installed and Windows is configured to use the default Automatic (recommended) settings, you'll be upgraded to SP3 on Thursday or shortly afterwards (as usual, Windows Update uses a staggered schedule).
If you absolutely, positively don't want SP3 right now, want to make sure your SP2-loving system is ready to take the plunge, or want to share your SP3 experiences - good, bad, or ugly - you know what to do: we'll see you after the break.