I’m a little disappointed in Microsoft right now because they almost included an outstanding feature in Windows Vista. The other day one of the Firefox nightly builds crashed which wasn’t a shock to me. And when a program crashes in Vista it always checks with Microsoft to see if other people are experiencing the same problem. Vista lets you know what it finds out in the Problem Reports and Solutions center, and normally I just ignore it. For some reason I actually read through it this time, and there was one thing that caught my attention.

In the upper-right corner of the report it told me what the latest version of Firefox was, when it was released, and gave me a link to go download it. This information is normally important for users who have problems because a newer version could solve any issues they are facing. Here’s what it looked like (note the area I drew the red box around):

Firefox Upgrade Information

I know you’re probably wondering what the big deal is. It’s just that Windows was able to tell me what the latest version of Firefox was, but why isn’t there a way for me to manually check for updates if this capability is already built-in?

I originally thought that this information would be coming from Windows Marketplace, but the last version of Firefox that it has available was back from August. At the time of receiving this report I had been prompted to download Firefox, which was released just days before I got the error message.

In the past we’ve tried to create our own custom update notifier and reviewed several applications (here, here, here, and here) that were all supposed to do what Windows is already capable of. What we really need is something integrated into Vista. Come on Microsoft, is it really that much to ask to give us a button to check for updates to our programs? It would fit in well with the Programs and Features in the Control Panel (it’s the same thing as Add/Remove in older versions of Windows), and such a feature could truly help make a user’s computer more secure.