Apple has been really negligent with Java: First there wasn't a Java 6 for ages, then it only ran on 64 bit machines. And while all current Macs are 64bit, this excludes a lot of Intel Macs. Thus, targetting Java 6 on the Mac was not practical. Fortunately, one of the WWDC 2009 sessions was “Java 6 on Snow Leopard”:
As Snow Leopard moves to Java 6, learn modern techniques for the best possible Mac experience while maintaining cross-platform compatibility using the latest version of Java. Find out how Mac OS X continues to build on its strong Java support with new UI enhancements, new APIs, and a next-generation Java Applet browser plug-in.
Now I think I understand Apple's Java 6 strategy:
- Don't support PowerPC, ever.
- Initially support Java 6 as quickly as possible on currently sold Macs (with the limited resources Apple has allocated to Java). This meant support for 64bit Intel only.
- Eventually support all Intel Macs. Well, at least I don't see any other way of interpreting the WWDC session (if Java 6 is standard on Snow Leopard and Snow Leopard runs on all Intel Macs...).
And while I'm still underwhelmed, this is acceptable. What is not acceptable is not having communicated this strategy for years.