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January 18, 2002 -- Steve Jobs' Macworld keynotes always include Java news: you just have to listen carefully because it isn't explicitly stated. Indeed, Jobs' keynote at the Macworld Conference and Expo held in San Francisco featured two announcements important to Mac-based Java developers: Mac OS X will become the default OS a bit earlier than expected, and the newly revamped iMac will include an upgrade to the speedier G4 processor.
Beyond news from the keynote, JavaWorld's "State of Java on the Mac" session featured four product demonstrations of Java applications running on Mac OS X, as well as a Q&A session with Apple's Java product manager and its Java technology evangelist. As expected, the question of JDK 1.4 support in Mac OS X arose; perhaps to the audience's surprise, it was partially answered.
The boldest announcement Jobs made in his keynote is that Mac OS X will be the default OS in all new Macs by the end of this month. Mac OS X, built on top of Unix, contains the Java 1.3.1 runtime, as well as command line tools such as javac, java, jar, rmi, and rmid that Java developers require. In addition, Apple will continue to make its developer tools -- Apple's IDE Project Builder with Java development support, Cocoa, and Applescript -- available for free with Mac OS X.
Although Mac users could choose to boot into Classic Mac 9.2, their first experience on the new Macs will be Mac OS X. While Microsoft continues to cloud the Java issue on Windows, Apple strives to install and run Java 2 on its entire Macintosh fleet. Moreover, because each Mac machine runs the same Apple JVM, developers will find it easier to target the Mac platform.
In addition to less complication for Java applications, Java 2 applets run well in browsers on Mac OS X machines because the browsers run Apple's JVM. The install also includes Java Web Start, so developers can take advantage of that technology as well. So far, only Microsoft's Internet Explorer for the Macintosh correctly runs applets and interacts with Java Web Start. However, according to Omni Group engineers, the company shouldn't have difficulty Java Web Start-enabling its browser.
Much of the keynote news focused on the design of the new iMac line. From that news, Java developers should note that Apple will upgrade the entire iMac line to the G4 processor -- a move that will benefit both those developing on an iMac and those developing applications for the Mac platform. For example, Swing applications will respond better on iMacs running Mac OS X once the kinks are worked out of hardware-accelerated Swing (and it becomes the default in the Mac OS X Java distribution). You can already see these advantages in Borland's JBuilder 6.0, which runs smoothly under Mac OS X on a G4.
JavaWorld's "State of Java on the Mac" session showcased Java applications working on Mac OS X. These large applications would never have been available on the Mac if it weren't for Apple's commitment to the technology.