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Adobe is introducing Flash Player Background Updater for Microsoft Windows in Flash Player version 11.2. This new update mechanism silently updates Windows computers with the latest Adobe Flash Player patches and updates, eliminating the need for users to perform these updates themselves. When Adobe releases new versions of Flash Player through the background update channel, Adobe Flash Player Background Updater automatically updates all instances of the release version of Adobe Flash Player for web browsers on any computer on which it is installed and enabled.  The installation experience is silent; no notifications will appear before, during, or after an update is performed by Adobe Flash Player Background Updater.

Note that Adobe Flash Player Debugger builds of version 11.2 or higher are unaffected by Adobe Flash Player Background Updater. These continue to be managed manually by Flash developers.  Adobe Flash Player Background Updater will also be disabled if you currently have an mms.cfg configuration file deployed on your network that disables Adobe Flash Player updates.

How does Adobe Flash Player Background Updater work?

After a successful installation of Adobe Flash Player 11.2, users are presented with a dialog box to choose an update method. To enable Adobe Flash Player Background Updater, simply leave Install updates automatically when available (recommended) selected (this is the default option) and click Done (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. After a successful installation, the Adobe Flash Player installer prompts users to select an update method.
Figure 1. After a successful installation, the Adobe Flash Player installer prompts users to select an update method.

At the core of Adobe Flash Player Background Updater is a scheduled task in the Windows Task Scheduler (see Figure 2) and a Windows service (see Figure 3). These two elements ensure that Flash Player remains up to date with the latest patches and updates. The Windows service used for Adobe Flash Player Background Updater is launched on an as-needed basis by the scheduled task and is therefore dormant for most of the time, saving memory and CPU resources.

The update check frequency shown in Windows Task Scheduler reflects the duration between update checks until a check is successful. After that, the next update check that will cause actual network (or Internet) traffic will be deferred by at least 24 hours.

Figure 2. The scheduled task launches the Windows service to check for updates to Adobe Flash Player.
Figure 2. The scheduled task launches the Windows service to check for updates to Adobe Flash Player.
Figure 3. The Windows service is responsible for updating Adobe Flash Player.
Figure 3. The Windows service is responsible for updating Adobe Flash Player.

Changing the update settings

Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager exposes all three available update methods for Adobe Flash Player in version 11.2 (see Figure 4). A local or network administrator can use the Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager to specify the update option for a particular computer. The Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager is found in the Windows Control Panel.

Figure 4. The Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager now exposes all three update methods for Adobe Flash Player.
Figure 3. The Windows service is responsible for updating Adobe Flash Player.

The selected update method is stored in the mms.cfg configuration file and will therefore apply to all users on the computer. If you wish to deploy a particular update method to multiple computers on your network, you can create an mms.cfg file and deploy it to your network. For more information on the mms.cfg configuration file and other administrator guidelines, refer to the Adobe Flash Player Administration Guide.

Troubleshooting

In rare situations, it is possible for an update to Adobe Flash Player to occur without being reflected immediately in an open browser session even if Flash Player is not currently running. Simply restart the browser or reboot the computer to fix this problem.

  • Instances of Adobe Flash Player that are open in a browser when an update occurs continue to use the old version of Adobe Flash Player

Any instance of Adobe Flash Player that is open in a browser when an update occurs will not automatically use the new version. This behavior is designed to protect against the loss of unsaved data. Running instances may contain unsaved work that could be lost if a refresh was forced. To update a running instance with the new Flash Player version, refresh the browser window, restart the browser, or reboot the computer. Depending on the browser you are using, a browser refresh or restart may not always work. A reboot of the computer will ensure that the new version of Adobe Flash Player is used by all browsers.

  • Old Adobe Flash Player debugger is updated to Adobe Flash Player 11.2 release

If you have Adobe Flash Player Background Updater enabled, but you are also running a debugger version of Adobe Flash Player prior to version 11.2 on your computer, the debugger version will be updated to the latest release version. To avoid this, select Notify Me When Updates Are Available when installing Flash Player (see Figure 1) or in the Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager (see Figure 4). Alternatively, you can upgrade your debugger to version 11.2 or later. This situation can only occur if a release version is installed alongside a debugger version.

Where to go from here

Now that you have a better understanding of the capabilities of the new Adobe Flash Player Background Updater feature introduced in Adobe Flash Player 11.2, you may want to check out the Adobe Flash Player Administrator Guide for more information on administrative settings and guidelines, or read more about Adobe Flash Player itself.