Java developers: Microsoft's OpenJDK build is now generally available

Microsoft's implementation of OpenJDK is now ready for developers who want to use Java on the Azure cloud.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft has announced general availability (GA) of the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK, the open-source version of the Java development kit (JDK). 

The release follows the April preview of the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK, a long-term support distribution of OpenJDK. It's a tool that helps Microsoft's developers build their own software and could help other developers that write applications in Java. Microsoft announced GA for the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK at its Build 2021 conference for developers.  

Microsoft is a major user of Java in Azure, SQL Server, Yammer, Minecraft, and LinkedIn, but it's only been supporting Java in Visual Studio Code tooling for the past five years.

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"We've deployed our own version of OpenJDK on hundreds of thousands of [virtual machines] (VMs) inside Microsoft and LinkedIn. Across the board Microsoft has over 500,000 VMs running Java at Microsoft," Julia Liuson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's developer division, told ZDNet.

"We're also providing that to customers as well for Azure."

Java is a relative newcomer to the world of Microsoft software development.

"We have a been an innovator for many programming languages in the past. Java is our latest language in our programming language support. If you think about history, we have been in C++, C#, TypeScript, and Python a lot earlier. Java is something we've been focusing on in the last few years," says Liuson.

Part of that support today comes in the form of the Java pack of tools for Visual Studio Code, such as Maven for Java, Red Hat's extensions, a debugger for Apache Tomcat, and support for Microsoft's AI-assisted IntelliCode code completion for Java. 

Java remains one of the top three programming languages and on VS Code it's nearing one million users, but is less than the two million Python developers using VS Code. 

"We believe Microsoft is uniquely positioned to be a partner in the language community. We can do a lot of direct contribution to the JDK community and we do world-class tooling, which is VS Code," says Liuson. 

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Microsoft's contributions to OpenJDK – an open-source JDK for the most popular Linux distributions – includes work on the garbage collector and writing capabilities for the Java runtime.

The Microsoft Build of OpenJDK is available for free to deploy in qualifying Azure support plans. It includes binaries for Java 11 based on OpenJDK 11.0.11, on x64 server, and desktop environments on macOS, Linux and Windows, according to Microsoft.

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