Oracle is finally throwing in the towel for Java browser plugins. A never-ending source of security problems, the Java plugin will be phased out in the near future. Browser software developers like Mozilla and Google made this move inevitable when they started removing plugin functionality in recent months.
This will cause headaches for organizations that use a lot of browser-based Java. They’ll be faced with a decision. Many will presumably stall for time, and continue to use existing Java applets in increasingly-outdated browsers. Others may decide to switch to another platform entirely, which is likely to be very costly. The best alternative is to – where possible – change browser-based Java applets to use the Java Web Start technology. According to a white paper from Oracle (PDF): “The conversion of an applet to a Java Web Start application provides the ability to launch and update the resulting application without relying on a web browser… Desktop shortcuts can also launch the application, providing the user with the same experience as that of a native application.”
Regular users will only notice the loss of the Java browser plugin if they happen to use one or more Java applets. Site operators have been aware that this change is coming for a while, and have been scaling back their use of Java applets, but they may still be found on some banking and financial sites, web site builders, and so on. One Java applet-based service that I find extremely useful is Berkley’s ICSI Netalyzer, which analyzes your network connection and reports on any issues it finds. I’m hoping that Netalyzer’s developers will convert it to use Java Web Start, or do something else to keep the service online.
Duo Security has additional related information.