Update Java to keep Vista Aero running

, posted: 3-Dec-2006 12:08

Here's an annoying Vista problem that I encountered: running Java applets in a browser kills the Aero interface. You can test this easily by going to any site like this airport monitor for Boston Logan International Airport. Once the site and the Java Virtual Machine loads, Vista pops up an error message like this:
No Aero

... and you're in Windows Vista Basic mode automatically. Same happened when I started up Azureus as well, as it's a Java application.

Without Aero, Vista has no translucent windows but you also lose the Flip3D task switcher, live previews in Alt-Tab and on the Task Bar. What's more, Vista doesn't switch back to Aero, because it looks like the Java VM stays running even after you've exited the site with the app. Instead, you have to kill IE7 completely to get Aero back.

That kind of sucks, actually, because lots of sites put Java applets on their pages. You go to one such site, the screen flickers, you get an error message and lose functionality.

Luckily, the fix for this was easy: head over to Sun's Java website and get Java Runtime Environment Version 5.0 Update 9. Installing it requires restarting Vista but afterwards, the JRE doesn't force the interface into Basic mode.

Chet Haase has more on the reason why running the JRE forces Vista into Basic mode. It seems to be a DirectX issue; Chet speaks of another DirectX problem, graphics artifacts that manifest themselves as black triangles. I haven't seen that yet, but apparently the fix for that was to not use DirectX at all for Java Swing applications (!).

There are further issues running the JRE on Vista; read Chet's blog for details. I'm going to take his advice and update to Java Standard Edition 6 in a moment, as Chet says it's the best for Vista. The release is still beta however, so I hope it won't breat too much stuff...

Other related posts:
Video: Kim Dotcom and Mathias Ortman at the IITP Mega breakfast
Two-factor authentication broken
The problem with naming and shaming

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