Java SE 8 update 20 is a new feature release designed to provide desktop administrators with better control of their managed systems. The release notes for 8u20 are available from the public JDK release notes page. This release is not a Critical Patch Update (CPU).
I would like to call attention to two noteworthy features of Oracle Java SE Advanced, the commercially supported version of Java SE for enterprises that require both support and specialized tools.
The Advanced Management Console is part of Java SE Advanced designed for desktop administrators, whose users need to run many different Java applications. It provides usage tracking for those Applet & Web Start applications to help identify them for guided DRS creation. DRS can then be verified against the tracked data, to ensure that end-users can run their application against the appropriate Java version with no prompts.
Usage tracking also has a different definition for Java SE than it does for most software applications. Unlike most applications where usage can be determined by a simple run-count, Java is a platform used for launching other applications. This means that usage tracking must answer both "how often is this Java SE version used" and "what applications are launched by it."
One piece of Java SE Advanced is a centralized usage tracker. Simply placing a properties file on the client informs systems to report information to this usage tracker, so that the desktop administrator can better understand usage. Information is sent via UDP to prevent any delay on the client.
The usage tracking server resides at a central location on the intranet to collect information from those clients. The information is stored in a normalized database for performance, meaning that a single usage tracker can handle a large number of clients.
Deployment Rule Sets were introduced in Java 7 update 40 (September 2013) in order to help administrators control security prompts and guide compatibility. A previous post, Deployment Rule Sets by Example, explains how to configure a rule set so that most applications run against the most secure version but a specific applet may run against the Java version that was current several years ago.
There are a different set of questions that can be asked by a desktop administrator in a large or distributed firm:
The guided deployment rule set creation uses usage tracker data to identify applications both by certificate hash and location.
After creating the rules, a comparison tool exists to verify them against the tracked data: If you intend to run an RIA, is it green? If something specific should be blocked, is it red? This makes user-testing easier.
The Windows Installer format (MSI) provides a number of benefits for desktop administrators that customize or manage software at scale. Unlike the basic installer that most users obtain from Java.com or OTN, this installer is built around customization and integration with various desktop management products like SCCM.
Desktop administrators using the MSI installer can use every feature provided by the format, such as silent installs/upgrades, low-privileged installations, or self-repair capabilities
Customers looking for Java SE Advanced can download the MSI installer through their My Oracle Support (MOS) account.
The new features in Java SE Advanced make it easier for desktop administrators to identify and control client installations at scale. Administrators at organizations that want either the tools or associated commercial support should consider Java SE Advanced.