Alex Miller lives in St. Louis. He writes code for a living and currently work for Terracotta Tech on the Terracotta open-source Java clustering product. Prior to Terracotta he worked at BEA Systems and was Chief Architect at MetaMatrix. His main language for the last decade has been Java, although Alex have been paid to program in several languages over the years (C++, Python, Pascal, etc). Alex has posted 43 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile


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Ok, I’m a little early. In one month on Halloween eve, JDK 1.4 will officially enter End of Service Life (EOSL) as part of the Sun end of life policy. JDK 1.4 was born in February of 2002 and has lived a long and successful life, probably one of the longest-lived and most widely-used Java releases to date due to fear of JDK 1.5.

Remember February 2002? 9/11 was still fresh and raw. Winter Olympics were happening in Utah. The Rams were narrowly defeated by the Patriots in the Super Bowl. And of course JDK 1.4 was released. As far as Java upgrades go, it was in the fast and easy upgrade camp. Some new and useful features (assert, regex, NIO, exception chaining) and some dogs (java logging). Other than the new assert keyword, most code ported up just fine.

So, what does EOSL mean exactly?

Honestly, that’s not precisely clear to me, but based on the rest of the policy, it seems to me like free support and updates stop. You can of course buy “retirement support” for the Java SE for Business release program and that is available for another 10 years.

If you look at what’s available for JDK 1.3 (obviously well into an end of life program that’s defined a little differently), you can see that there were new patch revs of JDK 1.3 released this year and last with updated time zone rules, so they still seem to be doing that. But presumably no bug fixes or other work is going into this release.

Based on my poll earlier this summer, there are still a lot of people using JDK 1.4 in production. I’m not sure how widely known it is that official free support for JDK 1.4 is at an end.

You may also have caught that next year on Halloween, JDK 1.5 enters EOSL! Start your planning now…

From: Pure Danger Tech 

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Alex Miller.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Alessandro Puzielli replied on Thu, 2008/10/02 - 11:23am


I began programming with the JDK1.4 for work.

the question is:How much MANAGERS/CUSTOMERS know about this event?

Bruno Borges replied on Thu, 2008/10/02 - 11:44am in response to: Alessandro Puzielli

Probably the same amount of Managers/Customers using Java 6: none.

 The problem is that *us*, developers, are the only people who actually read these things. Managers and, specially, customers, don't care or simply don't want to know that free support, updates and so on, will get to an end.  And even if we talk to them about the issue, they will always ask:

  • Why do we have to upgrade?
  • Will I have any problems if I just stick to Java 1.4
  • How much do I have to spend to upgrade to Java 5/6/7?
  • Can't you just find a workaround?

Sad... too sad...

Bruno Borges

Gokudo matic replied on Thu, 2008/10/02 - 2:25pm in response to: Bruno Borges

It's even sadder that they jumped without hesitation on Vista at its release.

Why don't they get a formation of a basic knowledge of all the major actors in the software field?

steven yi replied on Thu, 2008/10/02 - 3:33pm

What's sadder than all that is a lot of my users use an older version of OSX that does not have anything beyond Java 1.4... *sigh*

Jeroen Wenting replied on Mon, 2008/10/06 - 12:14am

Many major projects are still using 1.3 to this date. Personally I won't move to 1.6 for any reason, it's just too unstable and a monstrosity with all its "Me2" features. 1.7 will be even worse, though hopefully they've done something about the stability.
I'm working on a 1.4 project right now that's not going anywhere because the application server it uses doesn't run on 1.5 and won't be upgraded (too expensive, kids).
With 1.4 rockstable however there's no need for that.
Other projects use 1.5, NONE use or are planning to use 1.6. If customers request it they're advised not to use it for the stability problems we've found over the years during testing (1.3/4/5 systems stay up for months, the same software recompiled and run on 1.6 stays up for days, weeks at most, before crashing or hanging, unacceptable).

James Tylor replied on Tue, 2009/03/31 - 6:47am

I'm working on a 1.4 project right now that's not going anywhere because the application server it uses doesn't run on 1.5 and won't be upgraded (too expensive, kids).
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