Under New Ownership: Oracle Debuts Java Standard Edition 7

Along with the enhancements to the platform, which include support for multicore microprocessors and Java Virtual Machine support for non-Java languages, Java SE 7 is significant in that it's the first release under Oracle's stewardship.

Oracle became owner of the Java technology and trademarks last year when it acquired Sun Microsystems for $7.3 billion. In announcing the availability of Java SE 7 Oracle emphasized in a statement that the release was the result of "industry-wide development involving open review, weekly builds and extensive collaboration between Oracle engineers and members of the worldwide Java ecosystem via the OpenJDK Community and the Java Community Process."

Sun licensed most of its Java technologies under the GNU General Public License and Oracle has continued that practice, vowing to work with the Java community on the development platform's direction.

But Oracle is also a fierce protector of its intellectual property and the company is suing Google for what Oracle said is unauthorized use of Java in the Android mobile operating system. And last year the Apache Software Foundation quit its seat on the Java Standard Edition/Enterprise Edition Executive Committee of the Java Community Process, a key Java standards governing board, because of what it said was Oracle's refusal to provide a technology compatibility kit for the ASF's Harmony open-source version of Java.

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"This is a great release with strong technology updates," said Hasan Rizvi, senior vice president, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Java products, in a statement. "I'm pleased that the Java community has come together in favor of technical progress and that we have a clear path forward for Java SE 8." He also said Oracle will be supporting Java SE 7 across its own Oracle Fusion Middleware software portfolio.

A key new feature in Java SE 7 is the multicore-ready API that helps developers break down computational problems for processing in parallel across multiple processor cores. Also significant is support for programming languages such as Ruby, Python and JavaScript that results in what Oracle described as "substantial performance increases" on the Java Virtual Machine.

Also new are language changes that boost developer productivity and simplify common programming tasks by reducing the amount of code needed, clarifying syntax and making code easier to read, according to Oracle. And an improved I/O interface for working with file systems provides access to a wider array of file attributes.

Other Java SE 7 enhancements include new networking and security features, expanded support for internationalization capabilities such as Unicode 6.0, and updated versions of numerous developer libraries.

Oracle said Java SE 7 is backwardly compatible with earlier versions of the platform.

Developers can leverage the Java SE 7 release through a number of integrated development environments including the NetBeans IDE 7, Eclipse Indigo with Java SE 7 plug-in, and IntelliJ IDEA 10.5. A release of Oracle's own JDeveloper toolset slated for later this year will support the Java Development Kit (JDK) 7.