So Firefox is going the Chrome way and planning to enable silent updates for Firefox4 users? This feature is not live yet for the latest version of Firefox but you may expect the addition anytime soon.
Silent updates mean that the browser will automatically check for newer updates and install them when you are not running the latest version of Firefox. Thus, the user will not be asked whether he wants to upgrade to the latest version or not.
The silent updates will only be available for Windows, confirms Alex Faaborg (one of the designers of Firefox 4)
Alex adds “Firefox 4 will use the update dialog box for versions 4 and above, users will see the updating bar on load. The updates could also be applied in the background. Firefox wants to leave the final decision to the user and let him choose whether or not he wants to auto install updates, unlike Google Chrome. If you choose the auto updates setup, updates will be rolled in the background”. You can read the entire discussion at the Mozilla dev apps forum.
A Google engineer argues on a report (PDF) that any software publisher should enable silent upgrades in the background. This is to ensure that more users are running the latest version which will consequently keep them safe from malicious attacks.
The report shows a statistic that 97% of Chrome users were running the latest version of Google Chrome while 85% of Firefox users were using the latest version of Firefox. Safari users lag the race at 53%.
I don’t think that automatic updates do any good, the liberty should be on the user’s end on what version of a program he/she wants to use.