Oracle has announced that it is to depreciate the Java browser plug-in technology with the next release of the Java platform. The move effectively heralds the end of Java as a technology for running active content inside browsers.
The company gained the Java platform through the acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2009, and announced the new policy in a terse posting on the Java Platform Group blog.
“Oracle plans to depreciate the Java browser plug-in in JDK [Java Development Kit] 9. This technology will be removed from the Oracle JDK and JRE [Java Runtime Environment] in a future Java SE release,” the blog stated.
This development is blamed on the major browser developers, namely Microsoft, Google and Mozilla, which have announced plans to remove or restrict support for plug-ins in their respective products, or have done so already.
Microsoft’s Edge browser in Windows 10 has not supported plug-ins from the outset, while Google’s Chrome phased out support last year. Mozilla currently requires manual activation of plug-ins, and has signalled its intention to remove support from Firefox by the end of 2016.
However, there are good reasons why browser developers have opted to remove support for such plug-ins. Java and Adobe’s Flash have been the source of many security vulnerabilities used to deliver browser-based malware attacks, and browsers now have native support for active content in web pages with the advent of HTML5 and CSS3.
The current release is Java 8, which shipped in 2014. The Java 9 specifications are due for completion this year, and the JDK 9 release for early 2017, according to the latest information from Oracle.
Oracle’s message to developers whose applications currently rely on the Java browser plug-in is that they need to consider alternatives, such as migrating from Java Applets to the Java Web Start technology.
Java Web Start has been included as part of the JRE since Java 5.0, and downloads and stores the application locally on the user’s host system instead of running it inside the browser.