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Firefox 4 offers silent add-on updates

New add-on manager updates extensions automatically

The latest version of Mozilla's web browser, Firefox 4, will automatically update the browser's extensions, according to an interface designer at the company.

Add-ons, also called 'extensions' by Mozilla, will update silently in the background, said Jenny Boriss, a Firefox user experience designer, in a blog. Earlier versions of the open-source browser notified users of available add-on updates each time Firefox was launched.

Add-on developers can also revamp their wares to allow updates without a Firefox restart, which is currently required.

Firefox 4 Beta 7, the most recent preview of the browser, is slated to launch in early 2011, and includes an option setting for each add-on that lets users switch auto-updating on or off.

Other improvements to the revised add-on manager include a larger display area - the manager appears in its own tab as opposed to a separate window - and global search that locates already-installed add-ons as well as recommended extensions.

Mozilla may be implementing silent updates for Firefox add-ons, but a similar feature for the browser's security patches remains up in the air.

In August, Mozilla said that it would take a page from rival Google, and add silent, behind-the-scenes security updating to Firefox 4. A month later, however, the feature was tagged as 'at risk'.

Last week, Mozilla posted notes that indicated silent updates were still uncertain. Those notes have since been modified, and no longer include a feature-by-feature status listing.

Firefox 4 Beta 7 can be download for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from Mozilla's site.

See also: Firefox F1 plug-in shares website links


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