Apple’s OS X 10.6, code-named Snow Leopard, is released on Friday. There is some suggestion that this will finally deliver Java 6 for 32-bit Intel Macs (more than two-and-a-half years after it debuted on other platforms). The news reaches me via James at DZone, who cites Axel’s blog, which in turn links to this 2-month-old post as evidence. There’s no primary source identified and, given Apple’s legendary pre-release silence, this is unlikely to be confirmed until some Java developer with a 32-bit Mac actually tries the Snow Leopard upgrade.
At present there are two not-entirely-satisfactory options for Java 6 development on 32-bit Mac hardware. The first is to use SoyLatte, which is fine for non-GUI work but only supports Swing under X11. The other option is to run the JVM under another OS via the magic of Parallels or VirtualBox.
Assuming that this rumour is true (and I remain sceptical), the key question is will this update be made available to Tiger and Leopard users via Software Update, or is an OS upgrade necessary? The Leopard-to-Snow-Leopard upgrade is reasonably priced but Apple’s site implies that if you are upgrading from an earlier version your only option is the more expensive Mac Box Set (which also includes the latest versions of iLife and iWork).
UPDATE (28th August): It seems that the Snow Leopard “upgrade” is actually a full version of the Operating System and can be used to upgrade machines running Tiger. However, to do so might be a breach of the End User Licence Agreement.
UPDATE (29th August): I asked on Stack Overflow whether anybody could confirm the presence of Java 6 on 32-bit Macs. The question got bounced to the new Super User site, but I did get a couple of positive responses. So it seems that yes, Java 6 is finally available to owners of 32-bit Macs, but only if you upgrade to Snow Leopard.