Oracle, the database giant, has given notice that the Java development Kit 7 (JDK7) will be available for the general public on July 28, 2011. This includes several improvements to the java language that will be implemented by the new release. At the same time, Oracle also submitted specs for the next iteration, Java 8. This is not to say that the transition will be easy, as there are still points of contention between Oracle and the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), who is threatening to vote against the approval of Java 7.
Why is ASF so sore at Oracle? The reason lies in Apache’s version of the Java SE (ironically enough called ‘Harmony’) which has been turned down for licensing by Oracle in no uncertain terms. ASF claims that this is in violation of the licensing terms for the Java technology. When ASF first proposed the Harmony Project, there were no problems. Shortly afterwards, Sun Microsystems (who owned the Java trademark at the time) decided to place a Field of Use restriction on the software which prohibited its use on mobile platforms. When Oracle purchased Sun earlier this year, they switched their opinion from opposing these restrictions to encouraging them.
When Oracle declared a release date for Java 7, it basically translates into forcing ASF’s hand. The Java Community Project (JCP) will be voting soon on whether or not to approve Java 7, and ASF needs to rally support from the other members of the Executive Committee before that happens. Unless the restrictions on mobile use are removed, ASF is promising to vote against approval of JDK7 and go one step further; if it is approved, they are threatening to leave JCP. It will be interesting to see if that is a big enough threat to the other members of JCP to sway their votes.