Firefox 12 Ships With Silent Upgrade Feature….. Chrome Feels Flattered [UPDATED]

The latest version of Firefox has hit the streets. Version 12 is available for download here. But if you read the release notes, there is one new feature of interest:

Windows: Firefox is now easier to update with one less prompt (User Account Control)

Sounds harmless enough. But check out this blog post and you’ll find this:

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

What this means is simple. The browser will now update itself without needing you to do anything other than clicking allow on the User Account Control dialog found in Windows Vista or Windows 7 once. In short, it’s just like Chrome which has worked like this for some time. You’ll excuse me, but I am not overly thrilled by this. Why? Now you have part of your browser running as a high privileged service on your computer. What could possibly go wrong with that? Something or someone could leverage that to do something like spread a virus for example. I’m sure that I could come up with other scenarios, but you get the idea.

So far, I haven’t found a way to disable silent updates. But if I do, I will post it here. Having said that, there is a version of Firefox called Firefox Extended Support Release that doesn’t have this behavior. So if you are someone in a IT environment who wants to control how the browser is updated, this is an option for you.

Oh, I should note that as far as I can tell, this is a Windows only thing. Users on other operating systems shouldn’t need to worry about this. Yet.

UPDATE: Here’s how you disable silent updates. Go to the Tools menu and choose Options. Then click Advanced. You should see this:

Choose something other than “Automatically install updates” as well as uncheck “use a background service to install updates” and Firefox will not silently update.

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