Posted by:Monica Samuel May 9th, 2012

Oracle has announced the availability of Java SE 7 Update 4 and JavaFX 2.1 for Mac OS X 10.7. It’s Oracle’s first release of the Java development kit (JDK) and JavaFX for Mac OS X. Apple is tired of fixing Java bugs in the Mac version and is passing the buck to Oracle. It looks like 700,000 Java infections on Mac have done what Steve Jobs couldn’t. But first, let’s get into the history of the whole story.

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When Sun first released Java and its reference code, all the biggies – Microsoft, IBM, HP, and yes, Apple – picked it up to build their own version. Apple rolled out Java 1.0 for Mac OS 9 in 1996, and had the job of fixing, adding and updating the version for its Mac platform.

After many years of fixing and keeping up, Steve Jobs tried to get Sun (and later Oracle) to take over Java releases for Mac OS X but failed. In fact, in 2010, Jobs took Java out of the Mac completely, cutting ties between Java and iOS. His reasons, according to a response to a Java developer in the MacRumors forum, were “Sun (now Oracle) supplies Java for all other platforms. They have their own release schedules, which are almost always different than ours, so the Java we ship is always a version behind. This may not be the best way to do it.” In truth, that was never the situation. Apart from Windows and Linux, neither Sun nor Oracle supply Java for other platforms.

Fortunately, Tim Cooks has found a way to change Larry Ellison’s mind. 700,000 infections played a big part too. According to Dr. Web, the Russian company monitoring Macs that have been infected by the Java-borne Trojan horse Flashback, “the number of unique IP addresses with infected Macs has held steady around 700,000, and the number of unique infected Macs hovers around 580,000 to 595,000.”

Oracle has announced its plans to fully support Mac OS X Lion and later versions with new updates to the JDK, JRE and Java SE. While Apple too released Java patches for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, it’s not clear whether Oracle will release updates for OS X versions before 10.7. According to Dr. Web’s reports, 25 percent of the infected systems are running on Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and 63 percent on Mac OS X 10.6. With only 12 percent infected systems on Mac OS X 10.7, a patch for the earlier versions is a critical requirement. However, as of now, these users can only rely on community efforts.

Java SE 7 Update 4 for Mac OS X is now the default version on Oracle’s Java page. It’s a turn for the better. As Henrik Stahl, senior director of Java product management at Oracle, says, “Oracle’s JDK and JavaFX release supports OS X Lion on any 64-bit capable Intel-based Mac. … There are community efforts based on OpenJDK to build JDK 7 [and JVM on 32-bit machines] for other configurations, easily found using your favorite search engine. We applaud these efforts! :-).”

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