Java 8 is likely to be delayed into 2014
In what appears to be history repeating itself, Java 8 is likely to be delayed. Mark Reinhold, Java chief at Oracle, says in a blog post that the problem stems from Java engineers having spent much of 2013 so far working on producing critical patch updates for Java. This was the reason that Java 8 Milestone 6, released at the end of January, missed its target of being feature complete. This was the first indication that it wasn't going to be possible and saw Project Lambda functionality – "the single driving feature of this release" – deferred to Milestone 7.
Milestone 7 has already been pushed back in hopes of getting it feature complete. With the original plan to release in September looking like it was now unachievable and a desire at Oracle to maintain the security work, Reinhold is now proposing that a feature-complete release appear in June and a developer preview in September. To give plenty of time for testing and feedback, the final release would appear in March 2014 under this plan.
In his post, Reinhold considers the other options. Dropping Lambda as a feature would allow a September delivery, but it would be a delivery with few compelling features and would, with Oracle's two-year release cadence, not see the Lambda functionality appear in Java till 2016. Retaining Lambda, but reducing the testing time to stick to the schedule would "almost certainly repeat the well-worn mistakes of the past" says Reinhold, pointing to historic incomplete language changes and API designs which developers have had to work around for years. Another option, to delay a full year and pull the deferred Project Jigsaw into Java 8, had been suggested but he believes it would take more than a year's delay to deliver Jigsaw.
Hence the choice of the "least-bad" option; a pragmatic delay of three months with a further delay to avoid making a major release over December 2013. Reinhold says this choice would not open the doors for other features or to expand the scope of current features, though there would likely be some new additions for security functionality. Reinhold is taking this proposal forward to the Java SE 8 Expert Group and other contributors to Java 8 for feedback. If accepted, the new schedule would see Java 8 arrive in early 2014 and Java 9 in early 2016. Hopefully that will break the persistent delays which have plagued Java's previous releases.