Steve Jobs on Java: Apple-built updates 'may not be the best way'

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In an e-mail claimed to be from Steve Jobs, the Apple chief executive explained that Apple may no longer develop their own Java for the Mac because it is almost always a version behind the one produced by Oracle and Sun.

Apple revealed this week that it may remove the Apple-produced Java runtime from future versions of Mac OS X, perhaps starting with next year's 10.7 Lion. The Java runtime shipping in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard will be supported through the support cycles of those products.

A concerned developer — Scott Fraser, CTO of Portico Systems — sent an e-mail to Jobs, and claims he received a response from the Apple co-founder. In it, Jobs indicated that because Sun, acquired by Oracle for more than $7 billion, has its own release schedules for Java on other non-Mac platforms, Apple supplying its own build doesn't make sense.

"The Java we ship is always a version behind," Jobs allegedly said. "This may not be the best way to do it."

The CEO's purported comments could be interpreted to mean that Oracle will release its own Java updates for the Mac alongside the other platforms it supports, making it unnecessary for Apple to craft its own, usually outdated updates. However, though things appear to be moving in that direction, Jobs's alleged e-mail did not directly indicate that was the case.

Apple has already reorganized how Java runtime homes are installed on Mac OS X, believed to be in an effort to facilitate third-party releases of the Java virtual machine. This change would allow Oracle to release Java for the Mac, rather than waiting for Apple to maintain its own Java releases for the platform.