Someone just directed my attention to the Java 6 update 10 intro on Sun's site. What the living...?
First off, this isn't a minor update. This is taking a backhoe to the foundations of Java, hitting a water line, but digging a basement anyway. Why this wasn't released in 7 I don't know... I guess it's because the update is largely centered around deployment of Java as a platform and not adding any functionality to the underlying API. But damn, it's an overhaul.
Konqueror has already done this for a while now, but applets will now execute within a full JVM instead of a half-baked nsplugin. This allows for more robust applets and, from my experience with Konqueror, plugins that are more crash-resistant.
Finally the fairly... blech... look of Java has been completely overhauled with Nibus, long at last. Previously I've had to use javootoo's Look and Feel libraries to make things look remotely presentable. Now Nimbus should be able to fill that gap nicely by adding more modern window decorations and UI components.
These were all desperately needed improvements to have Java make inroads into the desktop space. Let's hope it isn't too late.