Oracle won't do any better with Java than Adobe did with Flex.
The management at those companies just doesn't care enough about engineering excellence.
In addition, where an enterprise manages the Java versions on behalf of users, auto-update is generally turned off and therefore they won't be affected.
That said, Citrin tells us that whilst enterprise customers should not be affected by auto-updates, it has happened "according to the customer we spoke to.
The last publicly available release of Java 6 is to be released on February 19th 2013.
After that date all new security updates, patches, and fixes for both the runtime and SDK of Java SE 6 will only be available through My Oracle Support, and will therefore only be available to users with a commercial license with Oracle.
Oracle will then start auto-updating all Windows 32-bit users from JRE 6 to JRE 7 with the update release of Java, Java SE 7 Update 11 (Java SE 7u11), due in February 2013. Oracle has decided that, in order to fix extensively-reported security problems, they will not only update Java 7 (their latest version of Java), they will also completely delete a completely separate product. They can be installed side-by-side, and many users have both Java 6 and Java 7 installed on their machines. Worse, it appears that they are taking it upon themselves to replace installations of Java 6 with Java 7 even if the users have only Java 6 on their machines.
In December 2012 Oracle will start to auto-update a sample of users from JRE 6 to JRE 7 to evaluate the auto-update mechanism, user experience and seamless migration.
I don't expect any improvement in the problems that Java has had recently until stewardship of the JDK/JRE is taken over by an organization that demands engineering excellence.
I say this with great regret because Java has been my career for the past 15 years, but it's time to face the truth.
In Oracle's culture engineering expertise doesn't matter. Oracle bought a large group of excellent engineers when they bought Sun, but instead of making personnel decisions based on merit they made decisions on which project someone was working on or whether they "fit" into Oracle's culture. If you've ever worked with one of Oracle's Java based products or with Oracle consulting's Java consultants you've seen how bad Oracle's Java products are and how mediocre their Java engineers are.
Oracle's Java offerings suck and the same mediocrity that pervades the ranks of their Java engineers is afflicting the JRE and JDK.