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The “new” Java world

Since the release of Java 9, much has changed for software providers who use the Java technology:

In the past, a new major version of Java was released every few years (e.g. version 7 on 07/28/2011 and version 8 on 03/18/2014). Now, there is a new major version every six months.

Compared to the old release scheme, there are hardly any differences at first glance: New functionalities are made available every six months and security updates every three months.

The differences are only evident on closer inspection:

Whereas, previously, Oracle Java updates were often free of charge for four years, all Oracle Java versions for live use are now subject to a charge; i.e. Oracle Java can only be used for free in development and test environments.

As an alternative, Oracle creates open-source builds of the open-source Java Development Kit (JDK) (also known as “OpenJDK”).

Free changes (including those affecting the OpenJDK variant) will be made by Oracle within six months of the first release.

After this period, Oracle will only make changes to the Long-Term-Support variant (LTS), and there will be a fee for receipt and use.

The OpenJDK Vulnerability Group, which includes representatives of several companies, exists to ensure that changes are also incorporated into OpenJDK outside this period. This group is responsible for ensuring that security changes are reproduced in the LTS version beyond the first six months.

Since Oracle will not create any more open-source builds after the first six months, there are only two options:

  1. Concluding an Oracle Premier Support contract in order to use Oracle Java versions
  2. Changing to another provider who creates open-source builds (e.g. Temurin / AdoptOpenJDK)

For the first Java LTS version 11, choosing option 1 means that Oracle will provide updates until September 2023. Option 2 means that updates provided by Temurin / AdoptOpenJDK, for example, will probably be available until September 2022. However, it is currently unclear to what extent the Oracle variants will differ from the variants of other providers.

The use of Oracle's free open-source builds requires a (major) version change every six months.

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