Update: The issue reported in JRE 7 related to JAR file association on certain Windows configurations has been fixed and updated binaries posted to java.com.
Back in February, I wrote a post on this blog stating that the End Of Life (EOL) of public support and public releases for JDK 6 was extended to November 2012, to allow for some more time for the transition to JDK 7. As part of the updated EOL policy, EOL for public support and fixes for Java SE will typically occur no earlier than six months after a subsequent major release has been established as the default JRE.
With the release of Java SE 7 Update 4, the Java SE 7 runtime is now available on java.com as the default JRE. We can now slowly begin the process of automatically upgrading Microsoft Windows Java users to the latest version of Java SE 7 through the auto update function. If you don't desire to be automatically upgraded to Java SE 7 just yet, you can learn more about your options in the FAQ.
In terms of major new features, beside Mac OS X support, Java SE 7u4 includes the eagerly anticipated next-generation Garbage First (G1) garbage collection algorithm, as well as numerous performance enhancements to the JVM. It's very mature and stable, has been tested with large parts of our middleware and applications stacks and - as a result - is fully supported and recommended for use with Oracle Fusion Middleware.
This is another Java SE 7 update release that has been developed from beginning to end within the JDK 7 Updates Project in the OpenJDK community. As the vast majority of Oracle’s maintenance contributions in the OpenJDK community is for Java SE 7, users of the previous release, OpenJDK 6, should consider upgrading to OpenJDK 7, or - of course - to Oracle JDK 7, depending on their requirements. In line with no longer posting updates of Java SE 6 after November 2012 to Oracle’s public download sites, we don’t have plans to contribute further changes to the OpenJDK 6 Project after November 2012.