What is Java?

Java is a programming language created by Sun Microsystems. A program written in Java is supposed to be able to run on any operating system, regardless of the platform on which the program was originally built (though, notoriously, Microsoft isn't keen on this idea). Java can be used as a server-side technology (see ASP), but is more commonly found running as 'applets' in browser windows, like the example given below.

Which browsers can run applets?

Java programs can run on different operating systems because these different operating systems can each implement their own 'Java Runtime Environment' (JRE) program. Since the 'environment' provided by each such JRE is the same, Java programs don't notice the operating system difference.

Modern browsers come with JREs installed, although support for Java can be disabled. In addition, there are different releases of Java (the latest being Java 1.3), and older Java-enabled browsers only run certain releases of Java. Nevertheless, Java applications can be very attractive and useful on those browsers which can run them.

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