Oracle Extends Support Again for Java SE 6

Oracle recently announced it will continue to support Java SE 6 until Feb 2013, extending the so-called end-of-life (EOL) date for the five-year-old development platform a second time.

The original EOL date had previously been extended from July 2012 to November 2012. The extension is designed to allow more time for the transition to JDK 7, the company said.

Java SE 6 has been the default JDK for more than five years, but Oracle wants to get the platform on something closer to a "steady, two-year cadence for major releases," said Henrik Stahl, senior director of product management in Oracle's Java Platform Group. Stahl explained his company's goals in a blog post: to stop providing public support and fixes for versions of Java SE three years after the general-availability (GA) of a major release; one year after the GA of a subsequent major release; and six months after a subsequent major release has been established as the default Java Runtime Environment (JRE).

After EOL date (what Oracle euphemistically calls "End of Public Updates") for JDK 6, Oracle customers with a "valid support contract" for a product that requires JDK 6, or those with an Oracle Java SE Support contract, will have access to additional support for JDK 6 from the My Oracle Support Web site. Existing Java SE 6 downloads already posted as of February 2013 will remain accessible via the Oracle Java Archive, the company said.

Oracle has acknowledged that Java 6 is still in widespread use -- JDK 7 only just went GA in July 2011 -- and Stahl even cites on his blog the results of a recent survey by Java toolmaker ZeroTurnaround that pegs current Java 6 usage at 88 percent. But that same survey also found that Java 7 has already reached 23 percent adoption.

"This is amazing penetration," the study's authors concluded, "considering [Java 7] came out less than half a year before the time of this survey. This gives hope that, as Java SE 8, 9, and 10 come out in the next 6 years or so, a lot of engineers will be able to benefit from the changes quickly."

Oracle has published a Java SE support roadmap to keep Java platform users informed about the maintenance options available to them.

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].