It’s interesting to see how many people are jumping to conclusions around the very carefully worded deprecation notice for Java in OS X. Read it carefully and pay careful attention to what it actually says:
As of the release of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3, the Java runtime ported by Apple and that ships with Mac OS X is deprecated. Developers should not rely on the Apple-supplied Java runtime being present in future versions of Mac OS X.
Most notably the note only refers to the Apple ported JVM that ships with OS X. This leaves the door open for an Apple ported JVM that ships as a separate download and for a non-Apple JVM that ships with OS X.
If you can drown out all the screaming and gnashing of teeth and pay attention to the Apple Java-Dev list you’d also notice:
- A huge amount of effort went into this release, especially setting things up to support multiple JVMs from multiple vendors. In the past, there was only one JVM available on an OS X install, it was upgraded with the OS and provided by Apple1.
- Even after this release, the Apple engineers who post to the list are still talking about their long term plans for the JVM (one example).
No one outside of Apple knows for sure what the future of Java on OS X is, and those inside who do know aren’t allowed to talk, but given the currently available evidence it seems at least as likely that Apple will continue to provide a JVM but as a separate download (or possibly just an optional install) as it is that they’ll abandon Java entirely.
Yes, there is a chance that Apple will just walk away from Java and leave a gaping void, but I don’t see indications that it’s a corporate strategy of Apple. Remember that Apple isn’t a company that sends a lot of mixed messages. They can turn a marketing message on a dime and they don’t pull punches. They’re also small enough and tightly managed enough that it’s rare for one part of the company to be off doing something that’s not inline with the company direction. If people are still building improvements to Java on OS X rather than moving to maintenance mode, that’s a strong signal that there is a future of some kind.
The real problem here is the same one that always happens with Apple – they’re not communicating their plans so developers can plan accordingly and not panic. But if you haven’t learnt to roll with the punches that approach delivers, you’re not a real Mac developer.