Adobe has switched on silent updating for its popular Reader PDF viewer, the company announced Tuesday.
"[We're] turning the automatic update option on by default for all Adobe Reader users on Windows," said Brad Arkin, senior director of product security and privacy at Adobe, in a post to a company blog yesterday.
The next time an update is detected by Reader, Adobe will present a dialog box asking users to allow silent updating. In the dialog, the box "Install updates automatically" will be checked by default.
Users can decline to switch to silent, in-the-background updating, added Arkin,
Adobe debuted silent updating for Reader in April 2010 when it revamped the update tool bundled with the free PDF viewer, and with Acrobat, the for-a-fee PDF creation tool.
At the time, however, Adobe retained users' previous settings -- which defaulted to a semi-automatic mode that notified users before beginning to download an update -- and required them to manually set the new tool for silent updating.
With the Tuesday release of Reader 10.1 -- part of a massive multi-product security update that also patched Flash, ColdFusion and Shockwave -- Adobe flipped the "on-by-default" silent update mode for Windows users.
If users accept the change, Reader will download any future security updates automatically, then install them in the background. The only thing users will see is a message posted to the Windows system tray that their software has been updated.
Reader pings Adobe's servers every three days to determine whether an update is available.
The updater included with Reader 10.1 largely bypasses the UAC (user account control) warnings that typically prompt Windows Vista and Windows 7 users for an administrator password before allowing a program to install.
"If you run with an administrator account on your machine, we can now perform the fully automatic update for full installers and updates to the updater," said an Adobe spokeswoman in response to questions today. "We do this with the addition of our own Windows service."
Windows Vista and Windows 7 users running with a "standard" account -- which is most popular in the workplace, where IT staff want to lock down the company's PC -- will see the UAC query in some situations, such as when the update requires a full installer or an update for the updater itself is available.
Mac users do not have the option of using silent updating because Mac OS X demands the user's password before installing new software.
Adobe is following in Google's footsteps on silent updating. Chrome, the browser Google launched in 2008, has always relied on silent updates to keep itself up-to-date.
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