Well there you have it, Oracle have come out and stated that they're deprecating the Java Plugin for Browsers.

At the moment it's still a little unclear when that will be. They firstly state that JDK 9 will deprecate the browser plugin, but will deprecate it from the JRE and JDK in a separate Java SE release.

This is good news for browser security, however I have a feeling that we'll have The Java plugin for a long time to come. Think of how much of your infrastructure management software requires a single version of the Java plugin at the moment, and how long it's taken the vendor to finally get around to supporting Java 7 - let alone 8.

Oracle have also released a whitepaper on migration from the Java applets to Java Web Start.

Workaround

If you can't wait until the Java Plugin is deprecated you can either:

  1. Uninstall Java completely
  2. Disable the Java Plugin from your browser
  3. For enterprises the whitepaper also mentions the Advanced Management Console that was released with Java 8 Update 20. This appears to require a support agreement with Oracle but allows tracking and management of different versions of Java across an enterprise.