First, let's look back at past Java releases (courtesy of the first google result I saw with actual release dates)
J2SE 1.3 2000-05-08 KestrelWhat has been happening the last 4 years? Apparently a few things I didn't know about (politics, JCP, Apache Harmony, etc). Most of which I'd need to read up on a lot more before I could write about it...so I'll stick to two things. 1) Apple OS X Java thing, 2) The updated Java 7 release timeframe and scope.
J2SE 1.4.0 2002-02-13 Merlin
J2SE 1.5.0 (5.0 to salesmen) 2004-09-29 Tiger
J2SE 6.0 (1.6.0) 2006-12-12 Mustang
On the Apple deprecating the shipping of Java with OS X - I think Ted Neward summed it up best. What is potentially most interesting is depending on how Apple handles phasing out maintaining Java on OS X, and if Oracle picks up writing a JRE for OS X. If so, will it impact the Java 7 release date? I think he has a point though - is there even a large demand for Java on the Mac? (And I say this recalling having compiled landon fuller's openjdk6 port on my Mac prior to Java6 shipping on my MBP almost 3 years ago...)
On the updated timeframe and scope given by Mark Reinhold...
I was really hoping Lamba expressions, often referred to as closures, would make it into Java 7. A mid-2011 release (another delay) without them is pretty disappointing. Java feels stagnant. The primary strength of Java for me is the tooling, not the language...but it would still be nice if the language was developing faster. Maybe it's time I started checking out some other languages that run on the JVM.
There should still be a few neat things though...looking at the list:
- invokeDynamic bytecode - should be great for all the dynamic language people running on the JVM
- related to the above...method handles. First I've heard...this requires more reading.
- Strings in switch statements - at last