Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Making the Web a little bit safer--one Plugin at a time

Today we release the second phase of the three phase project to integrate Plugin updates into Firefox.

This is a hugely important project, both for our users and for anyone who uses plugins. Plugins have become an integral part of every-day life on the Web, and as such, having them up to date has become essential to being able to do two things:
1) Enjoy the Web and all of its functionality
2) Keep yourself secure on the Internet

The problem is, that its very difficult to tell what plugins you have, if they're up to date, or if there is a newer version of the plugin. This is a problem that many Firefox users have been having a hard time solving for a long time, and so, we've been working to see if there was a way to improve things for everyone involved.

Our first phase has been a great success, with more than 10 million click throughs on our "What's New" page (as of Sept 16th) and millions of updates to the latest version of Adobe Flash. (Read more here and here).

Our second phase is exciting because we are taking a step closer towards direct integration into the browser. By going to www.mozilla.com/en-US/plugincheck/, Firefox users can check to see if their installed plugins are up-to-date.



Users will see one of four messages per plugin:
1) Up to date (Green)
2) Update Now (Red)
3) Update (Yellow)
4) Research (Grey)

Seeing a green button next to your plugin means that you have the latest version of the plugin. A red button means that you should update the respective plugin immediately, either because you have a very old version of the plugin or there is a known security issue with the one you currently have. The yellow button means that you have an older version of a plugin, but not one that necessarily puts you at risk. A grey button means that we currently do not have enough information about the respective plugin, and we invite you to investigate.

So far, we only have information for the most used plugins--for example, Adobe'sFlash, Apple's Quicktime, Microsoft's Silverlight and a few others. We're currently working on getting as much information as possible into our database, but we need as much help as we can get. (If you're a plugin vendor, feel free to send me an email so we can start getting your plugins information into our database).

This project, even at this stage, is a huge step forward because Firefox is the only browser that has ever attempted to integrate the plugin update process into the browser. Although we aren't at the integration stage yet, having this page live means that we can improve the security and overall user experience of Firefox users while we get to our goal.

The next phases of the project
2A) Make the page compatible for all browsers--in other words, make the page so that any one can go to Mozilla.com, on any browser, and see what plugins they have and which ones they need to update.
3) Integrate the work we've done into Firefox 3.6

This project has been long overdue, (and there's still a lot to be done!) but I'd like to thank Chris Hofmann, Aix Franquet, Mike Morgan, Les Orchard, Austin King, John Slater, Melissa Shapiro, Jonathan Nightingale, Chris Blizzard, Stephen Donner the Web QA team, Mike Beltzner, Steven Garrity, The Royal Order and Elise Allen for all of their support and hard work on this phase of the project.

And now, on to the next…

Cheers!

(As always, please feel free to send questions, suggestions or thoughts to lmesa@mozilla.com)

20 comments:

Fjoerfoks said...

How about localizing the page?

Laura said...

Absolutely--Pascal and I will be working on that next week.

David said...

Awesome stuff, glad to see this project happening!

Douglas said...

How about having some way to stop plugins from automatically installing. I run firefox on PortableApps and every time I put it into my office machine it adds some microsoft plugin without my permission.

Other than that great work and thanks!

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I am so pissed. It took me one hour to unsubscribe as i live in Korea and speak English. Everything was only in Korean with nowhere to change it to English so I could understand it! How about NOT localizing language and using my google account language instead!!! This is shit!

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