Stale Java for the Mac Faithful

[qi:004] Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard, released last week, has over 300 new features. Too bad the latest Java SDK isn’t one of them. And the Java developers that use Mac OS are fuming.

They’re feeling slighted: In January, Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs told the New York Times that “Nobody uses Java anymore.” Fast-forward to the release of the new operating system — JDK 1.6 isn’t in there.

While Jobs might have been referring to the iPhone and its notoriously locked-down development environment, the developers may have a point. James Gosling, the creator of Java, suggests that Apple doesn’t view developers as their core demographic. That’s in pretty sharp contrast to Microsoft’s (MSFT) developer focus.

Mac releases of Java lag those for Linux and Windows, and release 1.6 speeds up applications considerably, something Java needs in its fight with Adobe (ADBE) and Microsoft. Apple teased Java developers at its worldwide development conference with details on how Leopard would work well with Java and the community got its hopes up.

Part of the problem is that Apple insists on developing the JDK for MacOS. But another part is the company’s attitude towards innovation: That’s Apple’s Job.

As a company that makes both the hardware and the operating system, Apple has imposed more restrictions and regulations on its products than other computer manufacturers.

It’s possible that giving developers tools and open access to platforms will further reduce Apple’s control over the desktop. But by limiting development tools Apple is playing a risky game that may send developers looking for more friendly development platforms.