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Apple has always been wary of third-party plugins. The tech giant made headlines when it refused to allow flash on iOS, which means iPad and iPhone users have never been able to access any Flash-related media.
And now, it looks like OS X users will receive a similar restriction that prevents them from using Java. Today, Apple announced that all Lion and Mountain Lion versions of Mac OS X (60% of Mac users around the world use either of those two operating systems) will no longer feature preinstalled copies of Java.
Java is a web scripting application that allows websites to perform complicated tasks outside of the boundaries of traditional website coding languages. However, ever since it was released, Java has faced criticism for its plethora of security holes and devastating consequences once those holes are discovered.
What does this mean for Apple users?
Existing Apple users who update to the newest version of OS X will notice that Java has been automatically uninstalled. Once Apple users navigate to websites that require Java, they’ll see the “missing plugin” warning as well as a link that they can use to manually download Java.
However, all hope is not lost: Apple has only uninstalled the Apple-modified version of Java. It still allows users to download Java straight from the Oracle website – although it takes no responsibility for any security problems that users experience after they download Oracle’s version of Java.
Apple claims that this update will make its users safer. They will no longer be automatically predisposed to Java-based vulnerabilities. Of course, the tradeoff is the fact that Apple users will no longer be able to access most Java-based websites or applications – which means they’re missing out on more games than ever before – without downloading a plugin.
Apple does have a point: almost all of today’s most serious viruses and malware attacks are based from Java runtime environments. The best way to defend your Apple computer – or any PC – is to install good antivirus software as soon as possible.