According to data collected by Secunia Software Inspector from over 350,000 inspections, Opera users are most likely to be running old versions of the software. According to this report 5.19% of all Firefox v2 installations miss security updates, whereas 11.96% of all Opera v9 installations miss security updates, and the numbers for Internet Explorer v6 and Internet Explorer v7 are 9.61% and 5.4% respectively.
I am not surprised that Firefox users are most updated because Firefox has an excellent auto-update system which automatically notifies its users when an update is available and downloads only the updated files. Opera also notifies it’s users when an update is available but it’s users have to download the full installation file manually from it’s website.
Internet Explorer users are also automatically notified (via Windows Update) whenever there are new security updates. Still I am surprised that so many Internet Explorer installations are updated. This is because :
A large amount of Windows installations are pirated versions. ‘Windows Update’ is not available to these installations (other than security updates that are rated critical).
Internet Explorer updates are generally larger and can be a problem for users of dial-up internet connection.
Generally Internet Explorer users are considered to be less tech-savvy users. People who just come online for 30 minutes a day to check their email are less likely to have the latest patches installed. But again, these people wouldn’t download Secunia Software Inspector either and so are excluded from the sample for the survey.
This survey shows the need for a smart update manager and unfortunately Opera Software has taken too long to incorporate this feature. The good news is that Opera Software is currently working on implementing an update manager and it should be added to Opera Browser soon (see Opera Bytes v3 for more information on future versions of Opera).
P.S. : I think it’s worth mentioning here that Microsoft has failed to fix 70% of Secunia advisories (released this year) regarding Internet Explorer v7 and Mozilla has failed to fix 50% of Secunia Advisories (released this year) regarding Firefox v2 . On the other hand Opera Software has worked on all Secunia advisories released in 2007.