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 What is Java?
Java is a programming language and computing platform. Unlike many other languages, as for example C++, java does not run directly on the hardware, but in a virtual machine, called JVM. This (theoretically) improves the safety and portability of a programm but also slows it down. Minecraft is written in Java, and uses it for all game logic 
As of May 17, 2014, the latest stable Java version is 1.8.0_5-b13 (April 15, 2014), and the latest development build is 1.8.0_20.
 Why update?
The latest versions of Java contain important enhancements to help improve performance, stability and security of the Java applications that run on your machine. Installing the latest Java update will ensure that Minecraft will continue to run safely and efficiently.
- Minecraft will not update Java.
- Minecraft will not run without Java.
- Minecraft may sometimes crash without the latest version of Java.
- Updating will fix lots of problems and bugs.
- Some users report a performance increase upon updating.
- Minecraft no longer supports Java 5 as of the 1.6 update - 
 Where to download
Obtain the latest stable Java update here.
You can also obtain the latest development build here. Please note that development versions of Java are unstable and may cause unexpected issues and crashes.
- If you have a 64-bit machine, it is advised to install the 64-bit version for optimum performance.
- The browser version of Minecraft on most occasions requires the 32-bit version of Java.
- It is advisable to uninstall all versions of Java on the machine before attempting to update.
- When you install java, it uninstalls older versions of java automatically.