New Plug-in Architecture: This release rewrites the code that connects the JRE into the browser. Now applets run in their own process instead of in the same process as the browser, so it's much more robust and scalable. You can do super-neat stuff like drag the applet out of the Web page and out of the browser so it's in its own window (it just keeps running), and if you like, you can close the browser and the applet keeps running.
If you close the applet, you get the choice to create a shortcut on your desktop so you can just start the applet directly from the desktop next time. So with this new architecture, you just pull applets out of Web pages onto your desktop with one drag and drop.
JavaQuickStarter: This technology does the prework to keep the JRE files loaded into the computer's desk cache so that applets and applications start up much, much quicker. Unlike other programs, which keep heavyweight background processes running to achieve a similar effect, this is a much lighter-weight option of getting much quicker startup time for the JRE.
We have also turned on native graphics acceleration on [Windows] Vista, and have a new cross-platform look and feel called Nimbus for developers who like their applications to have a distinctive and uniform look no matter which OS (Windows, Solaris, Linux) they are on.
How can developers and consumers benefit from these features?
Consumers and developers will benefit by having their Java applications start up much quicker. These applications-especially the ones that use shading, animations, translucency and shaped windows-are going to perform very smoothly and quickly. The initial download or update of the JRE if they already have it will be quick and easy.
They'll be able to pull applets off Web pages and drop them right onto their desktop to use later, or offline, instead of having a complicated install experience, as with other technologies.
How does this release tie in with upcoming launch of JavaFX 1.0?
As well as being a great release for developers who write rich client applications in Java, this is the underpinning of the upcoming JavaFX 1.0 desktop release. In support of the additional designer-focused programming model we have created in JavaFX, this release ensures that JavaFX applications have nimble, lightweight run-time underneath them, and one that is ready for the kind of wonderful graphically rich applications we expect JavaFX developers and designers to create.