Posted on October 22, 2010 by Simon Phipps
Apple has finally lost patience with Java and tossed it from the Mac. The update that just happened is the last they’ll bring out, and OS X Lion won’t include Java support.
It’s been an off-and-on relationship for quite some time, rescued by 1:1 contacts each time the end has been threatened. This has to be a big negative for all the many developers who prefer to use a Mac than Windows to develop their Java code. Looks like the future for Ubuntu as a developer desktop just got several degrees brighter – does Steve Jobs ignore the Ballmer Imperative at his peril?
It’s hard to see how this can be recovered unless Oracle can sweet-talk Apple the way Sun used to each time someone screwed up. Having Oracle take over the development would be hard for several reasons:
- First, the Java port in use includes a lot of Apple know-how that is not generally available (such as private UI interfaces) to make Java integrate well rather than using just X11.
- Second, it belongs to Apple, so Oracle would either have to receive a copy of Apple’s implementation or start again with all the UI and platform native code.
- Third, distribution would move outside Apple’s update mechanism so keeping it patched and secure would be difficult – a new installer and update mechanism will be needed.
- Fourth, the new AppStore rules will make sure there’s negligible demand for consumer Java on the Mac.
It’s possible that an open source implementation could step into the breach, but I still have my doubts. OpenJDK for example is actually developed largely by Oracle, and after that (a long way after) by Red Hat, so the community would need to magically gain some hard-core Mac experts. I think this is actually bad news for everyone and that Apple’s pursuit of platform control in this specific case harms their customers. [Expanded version at ComputerWorldUK]
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