Sun Microsystems has announced an important update to its ubiquitous Java plugin which allows Java-based web applications to run across all the supported operating systems and browsers.
The new version, labeled Java SE Update N includes several performance improvements, like a kernel online installer which quickly installs a core set of Java interfaces so first time Java users can access the application faster, instead of waiting for the full install.
A new pre-fetching feature keeps parts of Java in memory so Java applets and applications load faster.
Update N also supports hardware acceleration based on Microsoft Direct3D 9 API, and a new patch-based update mechanism for faster updates and that, thankfully, won’t add several entries to the Add/Install Programs applet on Windows.
According to the FAQ, Mozilla and Sun have been working closely for this update and it was decided that the new features will not be available for the Firefox 2 branch. Instead, the necessary work on the Firefox side, has been added for Firefox 3 and is already available in Firefox 3 Beta 3 and later nightlies.
Sun has been releasing Update N betas for a few months now and the final version is expected for mid-year for Firefox 3 on Windows XP, Vista, Solaris and Linux. Internet Explore 6 and 7 are also supported.