Snowbound is running a three-part blog series on the end of applets and what the future holds for web applications. Check back on Wednesday and Friday for the other installments:
Part 1 (Monday): The Clock is Ticking to Replace Your Java Applet
Part 2 (Wednesday): Why Browser Plug-Ins are Being Phased Out
Part 3 (Friday): What to Look For in an HTML5 Viewer
As you all are aware, Snowbound Software has been a champion of Java applications on both servers and clients for almost 20 years. However, the popularity of Java plug-ins on end user systems is also the reason for its sunset—what’s popular gets attacked and malicious websites attack vulnerable client systems through many vectors, including ActiveX, Flash, Silverlight and Java. As attacks have become more sophisticated by taking advantage of the very redeeming capabilities of these applications, it has become increasingly difficult to keep evolving these older technologies.
At this time, most browsers have either discontinued support for these web-related applications or they are rapidly working to do so. A few weeks ago Oracle (who acquired ownership of the premier Java provider via their purchase of Sun a few years ago), announced that they will soon discontinue support for Java applets. The burden of keeping Java applets safe has become uneconomical while the liabilities keep increasing.
Oracle/Sun will continue to provide Java environments for servers (after all they sell the very popular Sun Unix servers that run Oracle and many other enterprise applications), but their dedication to applets is terminating.
Businesses that have resisted moving from applets and older browsers, have come to realize that being cut-off from the web in order to secure their client systems has diminishing returns and increasing productivity losses. It is also possible that even in an enclosed, internet-free environment, older browsers are still vulnerable in the event of an internal attack or breach.
Many companies and application suppliers have years or even decades of experience and practice invested in Java applets so change will not come quickly. But it is time to start, or at the very least, speed along your current efforts. The writing is on the wall.