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Oracle ships Java 8 Developer Preview for testing, 18 months late

Only six months more to go (fingers crossed)

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Oracle has shipped the Developer Preview of the much-delayed Java Development Kit (JDK) Version 8, the reference implementation of the Java SE 8 Platform.

"If you've been watching JDK 8 evolve from afar then now is an excellent time to download a build and try it out – the sooner the better!" Oracle's chief Java architect Mark Reinhold said in a blog post announcing the release.

This latest testing milestone has been a long time coming. Oracle originally expected to ship JDK 8 in late 2012, but internal debate among Java Community Process members led to repeated delays. As it stands now, JDK 8 won't reach general availability until March 2014.

Along the way, Java SE 8 lost support for Project Jigsaw, a major new set of features that would have added a standard module system to the Java platform. Project Jigsaw was originally planned for Java SE 7, but now it won't appear until Java SE 9 ships in early 2016 (or that's the idea, anyway).

That leaves Project Lambda, an effort to make it easier to write Java code for multicore processors by adding programming constructs called "closures" to the Java language, as the only major driving feature for the JDK 8 release – and even Project Lambda was meant to ship with JDK 7.

There are a few other new features in JDK 8, of course. Among them are revamped Date and Time APIs, improvements to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and the Nashorn JavaScript engine, among others – but these are mostly minor. A full list can be found here.

The most important thing for now, however, is that developers download the Developer Preview of JDK 8, bang on it, and report any problems. It's available for Linux, OS X, Solaris, and Windows in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, plus a 32-bit version for Linux running on ARM.

"Let us know if your existing code doesn't compile and run correctly on JDK 8, if it runs slower than before, if it crashes the JVM, or if there are any remaining design issues in the new language and API features," Reinhold wrote.

The Developer Preview is the second-to-last milestone release before JDK 8 reaches general availability. As the schedule stands now, one or more release-candidate builds will ship between now and January 23, 2014. If nothing goes woefully wrong with any of those, the final version of the kit should be ready for production use on March 18, 2014. ®

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