Java SE 6 Update 10 Beta is available. Its focus is very specific—new features and enhancements aimed at providing an optimized consumer end user experience.
Below is the list of main enhancements. Soon, Javalobby will feature a follow-up interview with Ken Russell, the lead of the team that rewrote the browser Java plug-in. (The earlier interview can be found here.) The interview will focus on the items in the third list below, on the next generation browser Java plug-in, specifically on JNLP support for applets, as described here. Do you have questions that you would like Ken to answer? Leave them in the comments to this article and they will be included.
List of enhancements in Java SE 6 Update 10:
- Enhanced Java deployment
* The Java Kernel online installer lets first time Java users run applets and Java Web Start applications quicker without waiting for the whole Java Platform to be downloaded. The default Kernel installation is expected to satisfy the requirements of most Java applets and applications, and any additional libraries that may be required at runtime are downloaded to complete the Java Kernel installation. This installation mechanism let the end user get up and running significantly faster, while the complete Java Platform installation takes place in the background. See Java Kernel FAQ for more information.
* For current users of Java SE, the Java auto-updater has also been improved, using a patch-in-place mechanism that translates in a faster and more reliable update process (the patch in place mechanism will take effect for end users who upgrade from this update release or later to a new update release). As an added benefit, follow-on update releases will no longer be listed as separate items in the Windows "Add or Remove Programs" dialog.
* New Version Download and Pack200 Support. Ease of deployment: Server side requirements are removed! With the new Java system property and these technology, they will drastically improves the ease of deployment for developers to deploy their Java applications or Applets through the network.
- Improved performance and look & feel
* The Java Quick Starter feature will prefetch portions of the JRE into memory, substantially decreasing the average Java Platform cold start-up time (the time that it takes to launch a Java application for the first time after a fresh reboot of a PC).
* Hardware acceleration support: Java SE 6 Update 10 introduces a fully hardware accelerated graphics pipeline based on the Microsoft Direct3D 9 API, translating into improved rendering of Swing applications which rely on translucency, gradients, arbitrary transformations, and other more advanced 2D operations.
* A new cross-platform Swing look & feel, code name Nimbus, provides a nice update over 'Metal' and 'Ocean' and with exciting features.
- Next-Generation Java Plug-In
A new implementation of the Java Plug-In that features:
* Better Windows Vista support
* Ability to specify large heap sizes
* Ability to specify per-applet command-line arguments
* Improved reliability
* Improved user experience
* Built-in JNLP support
* Multiple JRE version support
A great set of resources on this release (i.e, several useful articles) can be found on the page for the Java Se 6 Update 10 Early Access Program. Click here to download Java SE Development Kit 6u10 Beta, which is the full name of JDK 6 Update 10.