Sun has released its latest Tiger version of the Java platform. Calling it a "significant upgrade", the beta release of Java 2 Platform Standard Edition (J2SE) 5.0 will mean easier development, application monitoring and management features, and improved performance, it claimed.

The J2SE 5.0 software development kit, first announced in February, includes compilers and debuggers necessary to help build applets and applications, and is available for download at http://java.sun.com/j2se.

Sean O’Hare, Java systems engineer at Sun, had this to say: "Java technology has built a commanding lead in the network computing arena, with undisputed popularity and demand among developers. With over 110 million downloads of J2SE since its availability in December 1998, the Java platform continues to fuel the Java economy and to drive global business innovation on desktops and servers."

With more than 100 new features, J2SE 5.0 will enable developers to be more productive, and sysadmins to monitor and manage applications more effectively, he claimed. "Language updates in the new version allow developers to be more efficient and more productive, by reducing the amount of repetitive boilerplate code that needs to be written. New features include generics, enumerated types, metadata and autoboxing."

Performance improvements integral to the new release include reduced start-up time, a smaller memory footprint, and auto-tuning to deliver the best performance on different computer systems, Sun said.

The new release also features a new monitoring and management API. "This enables tools to monitor the health of a running Java Virtual Machine remotely or for applications to perform self monitoring for higher levels of reliability, availability and serviceability," O'Hare said. "Also new in is the Java Management Extensions technology, which provides a simple, standard way of managing Java resources such as applications, devices and services."

The desktop client also comes with a more modern look and feel, and comes with better support for XML and Web services.