Apple Deprecates Java, Escalates War on Flash

Apple made a few surprise moves yesterday.  Engadget noticed that the new MacBook Air computers do not ship with a Flash Plug-in pre-installed.  This is another escalation in the Apple vs. Flash battle that started with the iOS devices and is now creeping into the OS X computers.  However, unlike iOS, you can still manually install the Flash Plug-in if you choose.  In the end, this is an inconvenience, but nothing that can't be resolved by a user in 5 minutes since Adobe develops the Flash Plug-in.

The second move, and the one more relevance to me, is the deprecation of Java on OS X.  The Apple/Java relationship is interesting.  While Sun produces JVMs for most major platforms (Linux, Solaris, Windows), it does not provide a version for OS X.  Instead, Apple provides its own version of the JDK, developed at least in part by Apple.

My belief is that Apple is hoping (or already made deal) that Oracle will take over the development of the JDK for OS X.  While Apple is ruthless about attaining control over their entire stack, Java is not a critical part of any of their future plans, so why waste engineering resources on it.  Instead, let Oracle spend the effort, just as they already do for Windows, Linux, and Solaris.

However, if Oracle does not take over development (although really, how could they not) then this could be a significant negative impact on MacBook sales, as the MacBook Pro is the chosen development platform for many Java developers.

I think the most realistic risk is that there will be a large gap between when Apple stops developing and when Oracle takes over.  However, deprecated does not mean "we re stopping all work".  It simply means, that the end of the road is near.  Although given the slow release cycle of Java itself, I suppose we have a while before it becomes a serious problem.

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