So, with the first day of Leopard, reports are coming in throughout the blogosphere that indeed Java 6 is not included, as was mostly expected. In reality, this is probably not a big deal as the Java 6 preview has been available for a long time (although it was pulled recently) and it’s likely that it will be available relatively soon as either a Leopard update or a developer download.
But to me, the lack of any communication on this is really an important symbol from Apple, and not a positive one. If you go to any Java conference these days, you’re likely to see a majority of speakers toting Macs and usually a fair number of attendees as well. OS X truly has a beautiful UI with a *nix heart that is very developer friendly. For me, I find it the best of both worlds. And obviously I’m not alone.
Tapping into the alpha geek trends is something Tim O’Reilly talks about a lot in the publishing world and it has no less relevance here. When you see the Java alpha geeks all touting Macbooks, that has gotta be an important thing from Apple’s perspective as it’s going to influence more Java developers to buy Macs. And those Java developers are going to recommend to their friends and family (who look to them for computer support) to buy Macs. And that has a nice trickle-down effect.
But my boss has said that if Macs don’t support Java 6, moving forward it’s just not going to be an option anymore. We need to run and test with Java 6 and not having access to it is a big issue. If Apple can’t even be bothered to mention when it will be officially supported, then maybe Java on Apple just doesn’t have a future. For me, that would be terrible from both a use perspective as I would love to use it for work and from an Apple perspective as they are going to lose that alpha geek trickle-down. As an AAPL stockholder, that seems like a terrible decision to me. I guess we’ll see what happens.
I’ve seen some people recommend that an open source group should form to work on Java for OS X based on OpenJDK. That sounds nice, but I suspect the gui issues (at least) are intrinsic enough that without Apple’s explicit involvement, this wouldn’t happen any faster than it already does. I guess we can dream.