What is Java?
Java is an object-oriented programming language designed specifically to allow
developers a platform of continuity. Java differs from other programming
paradigms—such as functional and logical programming—because
developers can continue or update something they have already finished, as
opposed to starting from scratch. The objects keep the code neatly organized and
easy to modify when necessary.
For instance, a car dealership has several automobiles on its lot. Each of the
cars is an object, but each has different characteristics called classes, which
are the different models, engines, paint color and so on. A customer selects a
red pickup truck, but wants to add a better stereo system. The new pickup
inherits all the characteristics from the object "pickup truck", and the
programmer is simply tasked to modify the "stereo" class as opposed to building
an entirely new vehicle. This is what makes Java an ideal platform for cell
phones, website forums, gaming consoles and anything else that requires constant
updates and modifications.
Programs created with Java are portable because they are assembled in bytecode.
It can be executed on any server that has Java Virtual Machine (JVM) installed.
Unlike C++, objects created with Java do not have to reference external data.
This means a Java application will continue running even if your operating
system or some other external program crash.
Microsoft’s Visual Basic. It is mostly used for shorter programs, like
portability Java has, and is often used as part of HTML coding.
Java is the second-most utilized programming language in the world, just behind C
and ahead of C++ and Objective C. It is free to download and update. It requires
Windows XP or later, Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later, and works with most Linux-based
Do I need Java on my computer?
Sun Microsystems created Java in 1995 as a universal platform that could run the
same application on any machine regardless of its operating system. Java is
currently installed on 3 billion devices worldwide. To run Java, you would
download and install the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) on your computer . JRE contains the Java Virtual Machine (JVM)
and all the classes or blueprints to create objects. Java is especially useful
for programmers, but is also essential for end-users who run applications with
The Department of Homeland Security recommended everyone disable Java in January
2013 because Oracle, the company that purchased Sun Microsystems in 2009, failed
to adequately address a major security issue. Russian anti-virus company
Kaspersky Lab, said that half of all cyber attacks in 2012 were directly caused
HTML 5 instead of Java to avoid the security risks.
Java was once considered the future of the Internet and was absolutely necessary
to run just about everything after it was released. Now, most cybersecurity
experts recommend uninstalling Java if you have it on your computer. If it is
essential that you use Java, dedicate one browser for surfing with Java and use
another one for all other Web activities.
Is Java free?
Sun Microsystems made most of Java’s core code available to the public as
free and open source software (FOSS) in 2007, pursuant to the terms of the GNU
General Public License. Today, Oracle states that the Java Development Kit (JDK)
is free to download, but not to re-distribute without a license.
The issue was, however, recently complicated in the courts. Federal litigation
between Google and Oracle in 2012 led to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison being asked
the question in open court: "Is Java free?" When the judge pushed him to answer
with a yes or no, Ellison reportedly grew visibly uncomfortable before
answering, “I don’t know". Oracle accused Google of copyright
infringement by using Java code in its Android operating system without paying
for the proper licenses (to the tune of $6.1 billion). Google contended that the
code it used is public domain, so the company is not required to pay licensing
fees. Google was ultimately cleared of most of the claims, but the case is
currently being appealed.
The simple answer to this question for everyday computer users is yes, Java is
free. Programmers and other who profit from Java may be required to pay
Where is the official download for Java?
Java Runtime Environment (JRE, for everyday users) should be downloaded directly
from the Oracle website. The download page provides installation instructions,
licensing information and notes pertaining to the latest software release.
Information is also available that will help you determine which Java package
you need. Several other resources are available for download at the Oracle
website as well, including the Java Time Zone Updater and Java Access Bridge.
Java.com is also powered by Oracle and is an equally reliable place to download
JRE. This is the only option that guarantees you get Java without any potential
malware attached to it.
Java Development Kit (JDK, for programmers) source code can be downloaded from
the Oracle website for Windows users. Ubuntu users can obtain the code simply by
searching "openjdk" and installing it. Mac OS X users can download the Java for
OS X Developer Package from Apple developer website.
Several third-parties do offer Java downloads, but exercise caution when using
them. Download.com is one of the most reliable sites and generally gets positive
reviews from users. Do not trust any other websites claiming to offer a free
Java download, as you could inadvertently open your system to malware and
Why should I keep Java up to date? Will my computer be safe?
Java 7 and all subsequent versions of the application will always notify users
when updates are necessary and when any potential security risks are imminent.
It is recommended you install the updates and patches needed when prompted to do
so, but only through legitimate sources. Malware developers have created several
false updates that look authentic. One in particular is called "Java Update 11"
for Windows. The file will appear as "javaupdate11.jar". Once installed, it
creates a backdoor way for hackers to compromise your system. Keeping Java up to
date is important for security and performance reasons, but it is equally
important to make certain you are downloading legitimate files. Only download
updates that come directly from the Java homepage or from the control panel
installed on your computer. If you get an update notification that prompts you
to download it, close the notification. Then go to either the Oracle or Java
homepage and check for potential updates there. Java Auto Update automatically
checks for necessary updates and patches.
You can set it to scan for updates as often as you like or you can manually check
at any time. Oracle recommends you keep Java Auto Update enabled. The default
setting will notify users once per month of any needed updates.