updated 11:06 am EST, Thu January 31, 2013
Normal use waiting on Oracle update
Apple is once again blocking the use of the Java web plug-in in OS X, reports say. The company has issued a silent update to OS X's anti-malware system which sets the minimum version of Java beyond the current Mac release, Java 7 Update 11. As a consequence, Java can't be used in web browsers on Macs until Oracle issues its next patch. The step may back (or be based on) views that Java continues to have serious security flaws.
Update 11 was itself meant to cope with a vulnerability so serious that the US government issued warnings against using the previous version. The wait for the update marked the first time Apple decided to block Java, even though a number of apps and websites rely on the technology. Only the web plug-in is affected by the block; installed Java apps should continue to run correctly, though updating to the latest version (and the new update when it arrives) is strongly recommended by Oracle.
Apple has gradually distanced itself from Java over the years. At one point the company maintained its own Java fork, but it eventually left those duties up to Oracle after complaints about the Mac version of the software lagging behind. With the release of OS X Lion, Java no longer came pre-installed on Macs, though people can still download it directly from Oracle.