First Mac OS X Java release from Oracle
The new Java Standard Edition 7 Update 4 is the first Oracle-sponsored Java release that has been made available for Mac OS X (Lion). In October 2010, Apple decided to discontinue the development of its own Java implementation and entered into a partnership with Oracle, who had not long before taken over the governance of Java. Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) 7 Update 4 can be downloaded for Macs, as well as Windows and Linux, from Oracle's Technology Network. The Java SE 7 releases are based on the OpenJDK project and the Mac OS X version is specifically based on the OpenJDK Mac OS X port.
According to Henrik Stahl, the Senior Director of Product Management of Oracle's Java Platform Group, the company plans to publish future Java releases simultaneously for all platforms so that all users will be offered the same functionality and security fixes at the same time. The currently missing Java SE 7 consumer version, including Java Runtime Environment (JRE), will probably become available as a new Java standard version at java.com on 1 May, while the Mac OS X version is scheduled to follow later this year. Although Java 7 became available in July 2011, Oracle has been offering the older Java SE 6 as the preferred consumer version until now.
The JDK update also includes some code that resulted from the merging of the HotSpot and JRockit JVMs (Java Virtual Machines). The JRockit JVM was added to Oracle's portfolio as part of the acquisition of BEA, while HotSpot used to be a rival product of Sun. After taking over Sun, Oracle announced that it planned to merge the best aspects of both technologies in one JVM. The new JDK update also includes the currently experimental Garbage Collector G1 (Garbage First), which includes new garbage collection algorithms. Oracle recommends this tool for multi-core processors with large amounts of memory.
Along with the new Java update, the developers have also released a first complete version of the JavaFX RIA (Rich Internet Application) platform for Mac OS X. JavaFX 2.x, which became available in autumn 2011, was a completely revised version of the technology but Oracle only released it as a Windows variant at the time. Version 2.1 has now been released for Windows and Mac OS X and is part of Oracle's JDK (Java Development Kit). The Linux variant continues to be available as a preview. The OpenJFX project is also working on an open source implementation of the RIA technology. Some open source JavaFX components of this implementation have already been made available.
Oracle has also launched the Early Access programme for JavaFX Scene Builder, a visual layout tool for JavaFX. The new Java update for Mac is already supported by version 7.1.2 of Oracle's NetBeans Java development environment, which has also been released.