Oracle: Future Java updates for Windows XP users may not arrive

Though Oracle has confirmed that Windows XP users will not see Java 8 updates for now, security support for Java 7 is still possible.

Enterprises using Windows XP have already seen Microsoft pull security support for the nearly 13-year-old platform as part of its April end-of-life process. Now, in another blow for those clinging to the operating system, Oracle Corp. has informed XP users that they will not receive the latest security updates for Java, though some form of support remains a possibility in the near future.

Oracle is expected to release its next quarterly security updates July 15, but the Redwood Shores, California-based software vendor abruptly announced via an FAQ on the Java website last week that the upcoming release won't include the latest Java updates for Windows XP. The company stated that users will be unable to install Java 8 -- the latest version of the ubiquitous runtime environment -- at all on XP machines because the operating system (OS) is no longer officially supported by Microsoft, though XP users may continue to use Java 7 "at their own risk."

In a press statement, Henrik Stahl, vice president of product management for Oracle, confirmed that Java 8 will not be available to XP users as of the July 15 release due to compatibility issues, but said that the company is attempting to resolve those problems.

"For now, we will keep Java users on Windows XP secure by updating them to the most recent Java 7 security update on an ongoing basis," said Stahl. "Java users on more recent Windows versions can choose between Java 7 and 8, and depending on their choice will be kept up to date with the most recent Java 7 or 8 security update respectively."

XP users have famously been slow to abandon the OS, with the latest statistics from research firm Net Applications showing that as of June XP holds more than a quarter of the overall OS market share -- double the share of  Microsoft's latest platform, Windows 8.

Despite losing official support from Microsoft, many third-party vendors -- including major Web browsers such as Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox, as well as several antivirus vendors -- have pledged to continue supporting XP for the foreseeable future.

Microsoft itself had taken the stance that no security updates would arrive for XP past its April deadline unless organizations paid for them, but was forced to a do a U-turn immediately after that deadline when a severe Internet Explorer vulnerability was discovered in the wild. The company issued an out-of-band patch in May that included a fix for XP machines, though Microsoft insisted that it was a unique situation that would not be repeated in the future.

Despite assurances that Java 7 updates will continue for now, Oracle is seemingly leaning toward ending support for XP sooner rather than later.

"As you know, Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP and recommends their users to upgrade to more recent versions in order to maintain a stable and secure environment," said Stahl. "Oracle makes the same recommendation to our users running Java on Windows and also has a standing recommendation that users stay current with the most recent Java security baseline."

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