One of the big complaints Minecraft players have is that Minecraft runs on Java — it’s a pain to deal with because it’s insecure and needs frequent updating to avoid exploits, and they’d rather not deal with it at all. Thanks to a new launcher, Minecraft no longer requires you to install Java, so you can finally remove it.
The short version is that Minecraft is now bundling a standalone version of Java into their installation and it doesn’t have the security problems and annoyances that regular Java does. The really great thing is that Minecraft should actually run faster in our testing if you use their version instead of the version you already have installed.
Over the last few months Mojang has been testing a new launcher for the Windows PC Edition of Minecraft (an OS X launcher is in the works and expected by the end of the year). The primary (and newsworthy) change in the launcher is that it now downloads a stand alone version of Java that is independent of the general local installation of Java on the host machine.
Java is notorious for zero day exploits and vulnerabilities. We’ve written extensively about Java and the problems with the platform over the years; if you need a solid primer on why exactly Java is such a problem we’d strongly suggest reading over Java Is Awful and Insecure, It’s Time to Disable It, Here’s How.
As awful as Java is and as prone to zero day exploits as it may be, it’s also the magic that drives Minecraft, for better or worse. Because of this, millions of people around the world who love Minecraft also have to love-hate Java and keep it installed on their system in order to play the game. This new Minecraft development changes the game, however, so that we no longer need a full system-wide Java installation to play the game.
You still technically need Java, but it is now downloaded by the Minecraft launcher and stored with the launcher instead of installed across the entire system. If Minecraft is the only reason you have Java installed, you now have no reason to open up your system to Java vulnerabilities. The Java executable used by Minecraft stays with Minecraft and is as good as invisible and inaccessible to the rest of the system. Better yet, the Minecraft launcher automatically downloads the correct version for your system (all those players inadvertently using Java 32-bit on their 64-bit machines should see significant performance boosts thanks to this) and automatically updates it. All this and you’ll never be prompted to install the Ask Toolbar again.
Right now the new Minecraft launcher for Windows PCs is live on the Minecraft website but the majority of players are still using the old launcher. Let’s take a look at how to update to the new launcher and a peek at the kind of performance benefits you’ll likely reap. Before we proceed, huge thanks to HTG forum member adancom for bringing the new launcher to our attention.