This website offers several Java programs for download. These require a current Java Runtime Environment (JRE) which is either distributed by itself or as part of a Java Development Kit (JDK).
Theoretically, Windows users should also get the current JRE from
java.com. But in practice, Oracle’s default Windows download is an obsolete crapware-infested malware magnet. Here I’ll explain why you should avoid it, and what Windows users should do instead.
Default Oracle JRE
Oracle always offers the 32-bit JRE to Windows users, even for 64-bit systems, unless you arrive at
java.com with a 64-bit browser. What’s wrong with that? All of the following:
- Oracle checks the browser because the JRE installs a browser plugin which is a significant security risk and should be turned off immediately. You don’t want it enabled in your default browser!
- Oracle’s 32-bit JRE for Windows, and only that edition, tries to foist crapware onto your system, namely Ask Toolbar and McAfee Security Scanner. Java architect Joshua Bloch himself has signed a petition to get Oracle to stop this practice, so far without success.
- Oracle’s 32-bit JRE for Windows, and only that edition, lacks the fast modern Server Virtual Machine (VM) that’s the default on all other systems. Instead, it ships only with the slow obsolete Client VM. Don’t be fooled by the misleading names – the current “Server” VM is in no way exclusive to servers. Non-Windows systems use it to execute all Java programs, and so should you.
First Uninstall Everything
Make sure to uninstall any old or otherwise unwanted versions of Java on your system. Manually installed newer versions do not replace older ones, and 64-bit editions do not replace 32-bit ones. They all install side-by-side, so you might retain unwanted browser plugins or accidentally run the wrong VM.
Even uninstalling an Oracle JRE/JDK does not delete its humongous installation cache, so you must do that manually as well. You can find obsolete installation caches in directory
<User> is your Windows user name.
Oracle 64-bit JRE
Most people are running a 64-bit version of Windows today. If you do, too, I recommend you simply get Oracle’s 64-bit JRE. This edition still installs a browser plugin, but only for 64-bit browsers which hardly anyone uses on Windows. It does not attempt to install crapware, and it properly defaults to the Server VM.
You can download the 64-bit offline installer from the page Java Downloads for All Operating Systems. Oracle has some additional information on that edition. Most importantly, there’s no automatic update checking so you’ll have to obtain newer versions yourself as necessary. That’s annoying but not a big deal since you’re not running a Java plugin in your default web browser, so you won’t be affected by new security exploits anyway.
Oracle 32-bit JDK with JRE
If you must use the 32-bit JRE, get the 32-bit Java SE Development Kit 7 (JDK 7 x86/i586) instead. Use the “JDK Download” link from the Java SE Downloads page if the previous link doesn’t work. The JDK also installs a public JRE with the unwanted browser plugin, but at least without the crapware. Moreover, it comes with the Server VM although you’ll need to perform some extra steps to use that version.
- Find the private JRE of your JDK installation, e.g.
- Copy the entire
serverfolder from that directory into the public JRE,
"C:\Program Files\Java\jre7\bin\". You should already see a
clientfolder in that directory.
- When running a Java program, specify the
-serverswitch after the
These steps are optional, and only required if you want the Server VM’s superior performance. But remember that you should always disable the browser plugin when running a 32-bit JRE!