Oracle Announces Java 17 Long-Term Support Release and Shorter LTS Release Cadence

Oracle announced the general availability (GA) of JDK (Java Development Kit) 17 this week. It's the latest update of the reference implementation of the Java SE Platform under the company’s six-month release schedule, and the second Long Term Support (LTS) since JDK 11 went GA in 2018.

This release implements 14 JEPs (JDK Enhancement Proposals), which are, as the name specifies, proposed enhancements to the JDK code base. They're similar to the JSRs (Java Specification Requests) of the Java Community Process (JCP), though JEPs don't replace JSRs. JCP approval is still required for changes in the Java API and/or language. JEPs allow for OpenJDK committers contributing to the free and open-source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) to work more informally before becoming a formal JSR.

The list of JEPs implemented in this release (fully, in preview, and incubating) includes new language enhancements, updates to the libraries, support for new Apple computers, removals and deprecations of legacy features, and "work to ensure Java code written today will continue working without change in future JDK versions," Oracle says.

The list includes:

This LTS is on schedule with the accelerated release cadence Oracle announced in 2017, when the company committed to releasing a new version of the JDK every six months, in March and September. It is, the company says, the result of the ongoing collaboration among Oracle engineers and other members of the Java developer community via the OpenJDK Community and the JCP. Since the previous JDK 11 LTS released three years ago, more than 70 JEPs have been implemented.

Going forward, Oracle has committed to an even faster LTS release cadence, from three years to two. The company says it will ship the next LTS release, Java 21, in September 2023.

Oracle is truncating the time between LTS releases because many companies update only with those releases.

"One of the biggest challenges Java developers face today is that their organization only allows them to use the latest LTS release," said Georges Saab, VP of development in Oracle's Java Platform Group, in a statement. "By moving LTS releases to every two years, developers who are with conservative organizations now have more choice and access to the features that they love and want to use."

Also, JDK 17 and future JDK releases will be provided under a free-to-use license until a full year after the next LTS release, the company announced. Oracle will also continue providing OpenJDK releases under the open-source General Public License (GPL), as it has since 2017.

GPL-licensed OpenJDK builds from Oracle are available here.

"Oracle is making changes that will significantly benefit the Java community by shifting the long-term support releases to a two-year cadence and introducing a new, more relaxed license that provides free production use of Oracle JDK for an extended time," said Dr. Arnal Dayaratna, research VP in the Software Development group at industry analyst firm IDC, in a statement. "These changes will give organizations greater flexibility in managing the complexity of modern application development and deployments in the cloud, on-premises, and in hybrid environments."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].