So Apple have announced that they will be contributing large swaths of code to the OpenJDK project and that from Java 7 onwards, Java will be a separate download from Oracle, much like Flash is now a separate download from Adobe. This really shouldn’t be unexpected for anyone who was paying attention to what was going on rather than just running around thinking the sky was falling.
This is fantastic news for Java developers of all types. Mac Java developers have been asking for Java to be separated from the OS for many, many years so that multiple versions of Java are more manageable and especially to decouple Java releases from the OS release timeline.
Since the main JVM for OS X will now be open source, intrepid developers can dive in and fix issues they run into or at least dig into the code to understand it better and find work-arounds they can use. Apple has historically been quite innovative with it’s JVM port as well, bringing some great stuff to the JVM on OS X first1. It should now be easier to share those innovations across platforms which is great for all Java users.
It’s also nice to know that Java 6 will continue to be bundled with the OS in OS X 10.7 Lion. That gives a nice ramp-up for Apple and developers to transition to an optionally installed JVM and ensure things work smoothly either by applications bundling a JVM with the app or the installer or through auto-install methods for applets and webstart etc.
Finally, this should mean that JDK7 development on Mac will be done in the open, giving developers earlier and far greater access to try it out and report any issues back.
Seems like a huge win all round to me.