Java Tips: Downloading And Installing Java Software You Need To Surf The Web

A brief overview of what Java is and what it is commonly used for. How to update a web browser to be Java-compatible, making sure a computer system is up-to-date.

Ever sit down at your computer, surf on over to your favorite site, and get an error, stating that your page can't be 'read'? Or, just as often, log on to a page just to see little puzzle pieces or 'x'es where pictures belong? Most of the time, the solution to your problem involves only a couple of clicks of the mouse.

First, let's take a quick look at what Java is. Java is a programming language, developed by Sun Microsystems, which is most commonly used on network applications. Java requires that an end-user (that's you) program called a Java Virtual Machine be installed on the viewer's computer. Java enables you to play games, instant message, watch video in a special viewer, and a multitude of other things. If your Java VM is not up-to-date, then viewing problems occur.

Most commonly used browsers, such as Internet Explorer, include Java updates in their Windows update, which can be accessed by going to your Start menu, and then choosing Windows Update while your internet connection is enabled. You will be taken to a site where your system will be scanned and updates suggested. Notice the ones that mention Java? Those are the ones which will optimize Java on your web browser. Sometimes these files need to be installed separately from other files, and may require a restart of your computer.

The next thing to do is to check and make sure your web browser has been configured to read Java applications. After checking to make sure you have the latest version of Internet Explorer installed, this can be done by clicking on Tools in the toolbar. Click on Internet Options, navigate to the Advanced tab, and scroll down to the Java section. Make sure the box offering the option to use Java is checked. You may then be asked to restart your computer. If all runs smoothly after that, you're done! If your browser, or for that matter, your computer, is out of date, then you may want to look at some update options before enjoying Java on the web.

Java requires at least a 166MHz Intel compatible processor, with at least 32 megabytes of RAM. In addition, 108 megabytes of free space of your hard drive is required. In addition, your operating system should be Windows 98 or later. Mac and Unix systems are also supported, and as in Windows, the latest versions of web browsers and operating systems are suggested. To check that you are running the lastest version of your browser, simply click on Help, then navigate down to About. Your browser's version will appear, and most browsers have an option to update. In Mozilla Firefox, for example, the Update option is found bundled in with all the other browser options. Microsoft's Internet Explorer requires a trip to the Windows Update site.

There are other options such as upgrades to your present version of Java. Usually, a quick scan of your system by Microsoft's Windows Update will tell you if they are necessary. These files, when downloaded from Sun Microsystem's website, are usually filenames followed by a .jar. These files may give you some difficulty when opening. You will find that you may have to configure your archive handling software, such as Winzip, to handle .jar files.

Once you have all the recommended updates installed, you've booted and rebooted, and all seems well, enjoy all that Java has to offer. Remember, updates come out often, and you may want to schedule a check up every six months or so, just to maintain your system's continuity.

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