Java SE 6 and 7 devs weigh their options as support ends

Decade-old SDKs also among targets for license audits

Oracle Java Development Kit 6 and 7 support ends this week, leaving a sizable chunk of developers looking at their options.

Around 15 percent of Java developers still use JDK 7, according to a survey by JRebel, which produces its own code development environment. That being the case, around a million developers could end up without software patches and security updates, potentially risking reliability, security, and productivity.

Java SE 7 was the first release of the popular development environment since Oracle inherited the object-oriented language via the $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Donald Smith, Oracle Java director of product management, said last year that Java SE 7 was being retired after more than a decade. That means no more new patches or updates, although users will be able to get Sustaining Support to access existing software fixes via the My Oracle Support website. Details come under the middleware support terms [PDF].

"Users that rely on Java SE 7 should consider migrating to Java SE 8, or a later Long-Term Support Java release from Oracle, such as Java 11, to benefit from many new features, performance improvements, and a continued stream of fixes and updates from Oracle as described on the Java SE Support Roadmap," he said.

"Users who rely on Java SE 7 to run an Oracle product can continue using Java SE 7 until it reaches Sustaining Support, or until a version of that Oracle product removes Java SE 7 from its supported matrix. After that, users will have the option of switching to the next supported Java SE release, in accordance with the support matrix for the specific Oracle products."

Companies like Azul have promised to maintain updates and services for Java 6/7 through 2027 so from a technical perspective there are options.

But there are also questions over licensing.

By September 2021, when Oracle released Java 17, it began to offer a no-fee license with free quarterly updates for three years – but only for that iteration, not earlier releases such as Java 7, 8, and 11.

So far, Oracle has taken a soft approach to auditing Java via its sales teams. But the omnipresent software development kit has been making its way into official Oracle audits – which many users view with some trepidation – since the beginning of this year, sources told The Register. ®

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