At JavaOne 2007 Sun announced that it would do a Java 6 "refresh" release, geared at improving the Java desktop experience. After several other codenames this release is now named "Java SE 6 Update 10". This release is pretty substantial:
- A new deployment toolkit that enables correct detection of Java installation version and provides automatic download options.
- A "kernel" installer which has a small initial download size to get first-time users started faster.
- The "auto-update" no longer installs a completely new JVM, but instead patches the current JVM to a new version.
- Pack200 (a compression format optimized for bytecode) is now usable for Web Start and applets without having to install a Servlet on the server.
- A quick starter will prefetch Java into the disk cache when loading a browser to prevent the "Java freeze" when loading an applet for the first time.
- Much better Direct3D support under Windows for fancy graphics.
- The Nimbus look&feel which looks pretty cool and is resolution/dpi independent.
- A fully rewritten Java Plug-in for browsers which has more features and is more reliable.
Also the release is better at dealing with "the-Joy-that-is-Vista", according to James Gosling. All in all a very interesting release if you are doing something on Swing, Applets and/or Java desktop development in general. The improvements are a must have for the upcoming JavaFX technology, which is the upcoming Sun RIA answer to Flex and Silverlight. With Flex and Silverlight releasing new stuff like mad as well, 2008 will prove to be an interesting year for doing stuff on the desktop…