Apple loses interest in Java for Mac OS X


This week Apple released "Java for Mac OS X 10.6 update 3" and "Java for Mac OS X 10.5 Update 8", which brought bundled support for Java SE 6 up to version 1.6.0_22 in Snow Leopard and Leopard respectively. Along with that company noted that the version of Java that initially ships with Mac OS X is now deprecated.

"This means that the Apple-produced runtime will not be maintained at the same level, and may be removed from future versions of Mac OS X. The Java runtime shipping in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, will continue to be supported and maintained through the standard support cycles of those products."

So now Apple aims to facilitate third party releases of JVM so that Oracle could develop Java for the Mac by itself instead of waiting for Apple's release. Currently Apple's Java Preferences app allows to install multiple Java releases at once and to prioritize which will be used.

Earlier Apple always procrastinated the releases of Java for the Mac, though it was strategically important to attract Java developers so they could bring their code to the Mac platform and make it more popular and attractive for an ordinary user. But now there is no need in that, thanks to Apple’s reputation and a massive influx of iOS developers that prefer to work on Mac. Java in turn also became more popular as a server side platform in custom enterprise development and web application servers, which led Apple to concentrate its attention on Cocoa.

The similarity of Cocoa and Java also became a reason why Apple refused to implement Java support on its touch devices. Now all the iOS devices have a single development environment and runtime which is developed and owned by Apple, and the applications do not require a separate Java runtime and maintaining a port of Java Micro Edition. On the other hand, Google's Android is Java-based platform; moreover, Google developed a Java-liked environment for its mobile OS, and its technology wasn't licensed, which led to a lawsuit between Oracle and Google because of infringing the Java-related patents.

And now the history repeats itself, as with Mac App Store announcement Apple makes it clear that Cocoa will be the main subject of interest for the company. Though Java can still be used in apps, it is listed among the "optionally installed or deprecated technologies" in Apple's submission guidelines. And while Apple is no longer interested in developing new updates for Java, only time will show whether Oracle will also be so skeptical about the further popularity of Java on the Mac.

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