First Flash, now Java?
In a quiet update yesterday, Apple indicated that its support for Java on Macs isn't long for this world. Apple released an updated version of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, but warned that they won't be doing that again:
As of the release of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3, the version of Java that is ported by Apple, and that ships with Mac OS X, is 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.
In other words: Apple is discouraging the use of Java on its computers for the future, with the strong hint that it's going to stop supporting it altogether.
The same goes for the forthcoming Mac App Store, according to rules for developers leaked online today. Rule No. 2.24 states, "Apps that use deprecated or optionally installed technologies (e.g., Java, Rosetta) will be rejected."
Unlike the dispute with Adobe, for normal folks using their Mac in a non-corporate computing environment, this isn't that big of a deal. There's unlikely to be huge demand for Java apps from the forthcoming App Store, and for applications that use Java that are installed through other means, anyone who really needs to use Java will have to make sure it's installed before they use it. Corporate IT people, if they support Macs at their company, would install their own software anyway. But for consumers, the need for Java is probably going to be fairly rare.
As for why Apple is going this route, we know CEO Steve Jobs prefers native applications for his devices. Java, like Flash, is inherently cross platform. To Jobs, that means they're coded for the lowest common denominator interface, which for him, means they're terrible.
In the end, this is kind of like the Flash decision. Apple doesn't ship it, but Adobe does, and other companies besides Apple will continue to use it. Similarly, just because Apple is not supporting Java doesn't "kill" Java--when it dies is really up to Oracle.
CNET's Stephen Shankland contributed to this story.