Oracle released Java SE 7 Update 4 this week, which finally gives Mac owners the means to receive critical Java security patches at the same time they're available for users of Windows and Linux operating systems. The new release means that OS X should be receiving regular Java updates directly from the source -- helping to prevent attacks like the recent Flashback infection -- as well as a fully supported Java development environment.
Before this week, Apple built and released a version of Java for OS X on its own, and often lagged weeks or months behind Oracle in pushing out updates that patched serious security holes. However, Apple deprecated its own Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and other tools in 2010. Though the company committed to maintaining Java for Leopard and Snow Leopard, it warned that "developers should not rely on the Apple-supplied Java runtime being present in future versions of Mac OS X."