Earlier this month, Apple released an update to Java version 1.6.0_31 for OS X — but not before an estimated 600,000 Macs had been infected by malware taking advantage of exploits in a prior version of the software. The Apple update lagged almost two months behind Oracle's own .31 update, providing time for malware like Flashback to take hold, but that kind of delay will soon be a thing of the past: Oracle has announced it will be updating Java for the Mac directly, on a concurrent release schedule with the other platforms it supports. In a blog post, Oracle's Henrik Stahl announced the availability of the Java Development Kit 7 and JavaFX Software Development Kit 2.1 for OS X, which kick off the company's expanded support for the Mac.
Apple has traditionally rolled its own versions of Java, which at times has led to considerable delays in patching critical exploits — so much so that Kaspersky Labs recently stated that Apple was a full ten years behind Microsoft in terms of security. While the announcement of the JDK and JavaFX SDK are welcome, the full plan hasn't gone into effect just yet; Oracle's OS X support for the plugin and Web Start components of Java won't be available until the software's next milestone release, JDK 7 update 6, expected later this year. Furthermore, Oracle's new versions of Java will only work with OS X 10.7 and higher. All Mac owners should be sure to check software update to remove any malware that may have snuck its way onto their machines, and if you're running Lion, you can then download the JDK. All Java updates moving forward will be automatic.