To some, even the fact that it still exists will come as a surprise but the bigger piece of news is the fact that Oracle bids farewell to the Java browser plugin. Unless you’re an IT admin or you’ve still been using Internet Explorer in the past few years, this will probably not change too much for you as Chrome and Edge have been staying clear off of Java for a fair while.
However, IE and Safari have never put an end to support for Java applets, giving users and not many other alternatives when it came to running ‘apps’ inside browsers. However, recent changes have really left Oracle with no other choice as all browsers seem to be discontinuing support for this type of platforms.
This is far from being bad news, however. The Java Browser Plugin has been notorious to users and admins alike as it has – more than just a few times – served more as a liability than a helpful addition to browsers. The reason? Plenty of web-based exploits were previously using the Java browser plugin as the main method of infiltrating on systems. Due to the great number of security flaws and vulnerability to malware, some browsers even drifted away from using it altogether.
But the issue goes much deeper than that. The Java browser plugin isn’t the only one of its kin, and certainly not the only one that serves a potential weak link for internet browsers. Similarly to Java, Adobe’s Flash and Microsoft’s Silverlight apps also utilize the same old Netscape Plugin API (also known as NPAPI). While this type of plugins is no longer supported by Chrome and Edge, the former has retained a new, different plugin technology known as Pepper Plug-in API (PPAPI).
But this change draws upon itself both good news for users and downright troubling sentences for developers and companies. For developers, the situation becomes tricky as they basically have to remake entire series of apps or technology that will not rely on the Java browser plugin.
Companies are affected in a different manner – and more explicitly the ones who use in-house applications and programs that rely on using Internet Explorer. User interfaces, database applets and much more are very likely to not function on the newer browsers or in the absence of Java. This creates a great problem for a huge amount of enterprises as they will be put in the position where they need to create a whole new system for their business.
There is no exact date or mention of when the Java browser plugin will be laid to rest, but it has been hinted that it will happen sometime next year. In the meantime, Oracle is doing its best to offer alternatives where possible and being clear with its plans for the future. The company has stated that they are not planning to provide additional browser-specific plugins, for example, as that would force developers to create different applets for each browser. The best alternative that Oracle has provided was for developers to switch from Java Applets to Java Web Start applications instead.
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