Years ago when Sun's Java was brand new, one of its supposed nifty features was immunity from what was then seen as a plague of Windows-based software: DLL hell. Java would avoid the kinds of problems caused by bad ol' Microsoft's conflicting DLL versions. Java will NEVER have this problem, we were told, because it's runtime is monolithic and will ALWAYS be backward compatible.
Fast forward to 2007 and here I am in JAVA HELL. My company's online timesheet program runs on one version of the Java Runtime Engine, our main product's report engine runs on a different one, and neither is backward or forward compatible with the other versions of the JRE.
The latest versions of JRE from Sun give you a control panel that lets you switch between the latest Java versions - but older versions don't get on the list! Actually, I have three control panel icons on my system - A "Java" CPL, a "Java Plug-in 1.3.0_02" CPL and a "Java Plug-in 1.3.0_01" CPL. Java's 1.3.X and 1.4.X don't show up in the "Java" CPL as candidates for running applets. JRE 1.4.2 doesn't have a CPL at all, even though I have it installed, as indicated by the list in Internet Options -> Programs -> Manage Add-Ons.
So I have a several control panels, an IE dialog with enable/disable options, and some environment variable stuff (CLASSPATH?) all of which needs to be fiddled with if I want to switch between Java versions in my browser.
And I DO want to switch between Java versions. I NEED to. I have a passing familiarity with Java, but not enough to feel confident with the kind of under-the-hood and behind-the-curtains tinkering it would take to perform this seemingly simple task on a regular basis. And ideally, I'd like something I could share with my co-workers, who all have this same problem and who are mostly less technically-inclined than I am.
I'm not sure what would be involved in this. Maybe it's not doable, which would explain why I couldn't find an existing utility to do it. It's certainly not a glamorous type of app. But if Skrommel (or someone) could team up with the resident Java guru (whoever that might be) and code me a way out of this nightmare, I'd be eternally grateful.