The Windows version of Firefox can now automatically update to the latest version in the background. when the web browser is not running.
“Background update is now available on Windows. This feature will allow Firefox to update, even if it is not running,” the Firefox 90.0 Beta release notes read.
“So far, Firefox has only downloaded and installed updates when the user runs it. This means that users who use Firefox infrequently are often out of date.” according to Kirk Steuber, Platform Engineer at Mozilla.
“It also means that if Firefox is reopened in response to a marketing campaign, the features may not be immediately announced.
“The background update is intended to address this issue by allowing updates to be downloaded and installed, even when the user is not running Firefox.”
How the background update function works
Firefox background updates will be scheduled for the default profile every 7 hours when the browser is not running to check for new updates, download and install them without requiring user interaction.
The underlying mechanism behind scheduled update tasks at the operating system level is that Firefox runs in a streamlined and headless way. “Background task mode. “
While using Firefox, the headless Firefox process will not check for updates to avoid affecting the user experience by inadvertently forcing a restart.
“If you need to disable this functionality, about: preferences should show a checkbox in the ‘Updates’ section for you to disable, or you can set the Firefox BackgroundAppUpdate policy to false”, Nick Alexander from Mozilla saying.
Deployment for all Windows users
The background update is now part of a phased release for all Windows users over the next several months, as part of the Beta 89 and Release 89 cycles.
However, Mozilla first announced that the feature was in development. more than four years ago as a background process designed to check for updates and apply them to users with slow Internet connections and / or who do not run Firefox on a daily basis.
While background updates have already been announced for Windows, there are no immediate plans to implement the feature for macOS and Linux.
On a related note, Firefox also installs an optional service called Mozilla Maintenance Service which only starts in the background when updates are downloaded.
This service is designed to allow the installation of updates without the need for the user to click “Yes” in the Windows User Account Control (UAC) dialog.