I was just reading a post on Fabrizio Giudici’s Blog and it really got me thinking about Apple’s commitment to Java on Mac OS X. As a Java developer who uses a MacBook as the platform of choice, I’m a very concerned about Apple’s recent announcement that Mac OS X 10.5 will be delayed until October. Four months is really not much of a delay, especially compared to the 5 years it took Microsoft to get Vista out the door. But the fact that Apple said that “we had to borrow some key software engineering and QA resources from our Mac OS X team” could make one question Apple’s commitment to the Mac. Also the fact that Apple has been extremely tight lipped about Leopard in general.
But what really gets me is Apple’s lack of information surrounding the state of Java on the platform. For starters, Java 5 on OS X is stuck at 1.5.0_07 while the rest of the world is using 1.5.0_11 or using the current release which is Java 6. There was a pre-release of Java 6 which was released back in September, but not an update since. Even worse, there’s been no mention from Apple as to what is going on in regard to Java on OS X. The sessions for the upcoming WWDC in June only has 2 sessions regarding Java. Additionally, Apple’s complete lack of involvement with the Java community is absolutely appalling, especially when you have some folks who are doing some great Java work on OS X.
What is incredibly frustrating is having to wait so painfully long to get the current release of Java on Mac OS X. Way back when OS X was first being released, Apple had made bold promises to “Apple has been promising to narrow the gap in Java releases to 60-90 days after Sun’s final release” due in part to OS X’s UNIX under pinnings. So far, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Java 1.4 was nearly a year behind Sun’s final release. Java 5 was also nearly a year behind and required an OS upgrade to boot. With Java 6, it appears that we’re in for a repeat of Tiger/Java 5 or we’re just not going to get a new version of Java. Or even better, we’ll get Leopard 4 month late and then have to another 3 to 9 months for Java 6 to arrive. And at that point, Java 7 will have entered beta. Maybe it’s time to start looking at OpenSUSE on my MacBook?