updated 08:00 pm EDT, Fri April 27, 2012
Now directly supplying JDK and JavaFX for OS X
Following the disruption caused by an unpatched vulnerability in Mac versions of Java SE 6 that played havoc with the Mac community for several weeks until Apple finally posted the patch, Oracle has announced that it will take the lead in supplying both Java SE 7 and its runtime environment to Mac users who need it. For developers, the Java SE 7 Update 4 and its JDK as well as JavaFX 2.1 are both available now for download, marking Oracle's first direct delivery) for Mac OS X.
Oracle has been involved in the OpenJDK project along with Apple, which hosts development of a Mac version of Java SE 7, and will now start up an OpenJFX project as part of its plan to open-source the JavaFX platform. JavaFX is an updated platform for creating client applications that now includes support for playing back MPEG-4 container video and audio files using H.264/AVC video and AAC audio.
The Java SE 7 Update 4 is significant for its inclusion of the next-gen garbage collection algorithm, known as Garbage First or G1, which handles garbage collection even for very large applications. The update also continues the merging of the Java Hotspot JVM and JRockit JVM into a combined virtual machine, and adds performance enhancements to Oracle Fusion Middleware.
Though consumer use of Java in consumer web applications has flagged in recent years -- in part due to the widespread problem of unpatched Java implementations and various security flaws -- the platform is still widely used for enterprise and business web apps, vertical market devices and appliances. Oracle claims there are more than nine million Java developers and three billion devices running on the platform, including more than 125 million Java-based TVs.
The company plans to make a consumer version of Java SE 7 Update 4 available as the default version of Java as of May 1st, with the Mac version coming sometime later in the year (system requirements were not announced, but it is expected to work with Macs running Snow Leopard and Lion versions). This Java implementation is not vulnerable to any of the Java-based Flashback attacks or the recently-reported (but patched in 2009) Microsoft Word-based Trojan known as "SubPub" or "LuckyCat" that exploits an (old) Java vulnerability to spread.