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Java 11 vs. Java 17 — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 18, 2024
Java 11 is a long-term support (LTS) release with new features like the HttpClient API, whereas Java 17 is a later LTS version with additional features like sealed classes.
Java 11 vs. Java 17 — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Java 11 and Java 17


Key Differences

Java 11, released in September 2018, is the first long-term support (LTS) release after Java 8. It introduced several key features like the HttpClient API to replace the legacy HttpUrlConnection, and the var keyword for local variable type inference. Java 17, a later LTS release that came out in September 2021, includes all the features from Java 11 plus enhancements such as pattern matching for switch expressions and sealed classes.
In Java 11, the JEP 320 removed the Java EE and CORBA modules as part of the module system introduced in Java 9, streamlining the JDK for smaller and more maintainable builds. Java 17 continues this simplification and modularization, introducing JEP 410 which removes the Experimental AOT and JIT compiler. This reflects a shift towards JIT compilation for performance optimization.
Java 11 marked the beginning of a new six-month release cadence for Java, aiming to bring more frequent updates and feature releases to the language and platform. Java 17, while also an LTS release, benefits from this faster cycle, incorporating improvements from interim versions such as Java 12 through 16, representing a more mature ecosystem with newer features.
One of the improvements in Java 11 includes the new Z Garbage Collector (ZGC) for low-latency garbage collection. By Java 17, ZGC had become fully production-ready and was complemented by other GC enhancements like the Elastic Metaspace, which improves memory footprint and performance.
Java 11 ceased the availability of public updates for commercial use without a license. In contrast, Oracle's release of Java 17 came with the announcement that it would provide free commercial-use updates for the version until at least a year after the subsequent LTS release, signaling a significant licensing and support policy change.

Comparison Chart

Release Date

September 2018
September 2021

Long-term Support (LTS)

First LTS after Java 8
Second LTS after Java 11

Notable Features

HttpClient API, var keyword
Pattern matching for switch, sealed classes

Garbage Collector

Introduction of Z Garbage Collector (ZGC)
ZGC and other GCs are production-ready

Licensing & Support

No free commercial-use updates
Free commercial-use updates

Module System Enhancements

Removal of Java EE and CORBA modules (JEP 320)
Removal of Experimental AOT/JIT compiler (JEP 410)

Performance Optimizations

Improvements in application isolation
New optimizations and features from interim releases

Compare with Definitions

Java 11

Brought the 'var' keyword for local variable type inference.
With Java 11, we can use 'var' to declare local variables.

Java 17

Java 17 is the latest LTS release with more features.
Our company will adopt Java 17 for its new features and long-term support.

Java 11

Java 11 is an LTS release, ensuring extended support.
We're upgrading our servers to Java 11 for longer support.

Java 17

Includes performance optimizations from Java 12-16.
Java 17's optimizations have significantly reduced our application's overhead.

Java 11

Introduced new language features like HttpClient API.
Java 11's HttpClient API simplifies our HTTP requests.

Java 17

Included pattern matching and sealed classes.
Sealed classes in Java 17 help us maintain a clean architecture.

Java 11

Improved application performance with ZGC.
Java 11 enhanced our app's performance with the Z Garbage Collector.

Java 17

Offers free commercial-use updates.
Switching to Java 17 allows us to benefit from free updates.

Java 11

Removed outdated modules for a leaner JDK.
After migrating to Java 11, we no longer have the Java EE modules.

Java 17

Continued JDK modularization by removing the experimental compiler.
Java 17's simplified JDK makes it easier to maintain our system.

Common Curiosities

Does Java 17 introduce any new garbage collectors?

No new garbage collectors were introduced, but existing ones like ZGC were enhanced and optimized.

Is Java 11 still supported?

Yes, Java 11 is an LTS version and will receive updates until at least September 2026.

Is Java 17 free to use commercially?

Yes, Oracle provides free commercial-use updates for Java 17 until at least a year after the next LTS release.

Should I upgrade from Java 11 to Java 17?

If you need the latest features and improved performance, upgrading to Java 17 is recommended.

What are the main features of Java 11?

Key features include HttpClient API, var keyword for local variable type inference, and Z Garbage Collector.

Can I use the new switch expressions in Java 11?

No, switch expressions were introduced in Java 12 and enhanced in Java 17.

What's the main advantage of the ZGC in Java 17 over Java 11?

ZGC in Java 17 has seen further enhancements and is considered fully production-ready.

Do Java 11 and Java 17 have the same release cadence?

Both are part of the six-month release cadence, but Java 17 benefits from the cumulative features of the releases between Java 11 and Java 17.

Are modules removed in Java 11 still absent in Java 17?

Yes, the modules removed in Java 11 are not present in Java 17.

Will my Java 11 code work on Java 17?

It should, but testing is necessary due to potential deprecated features and changes.

Can I get free updates for Java 11?

No, free updates for commercial use of Java 11 are not available without a license.

What are sealed classes in Java 17?

Sealed classes are a feature that allows you to restrict which other classes may extend or implement them.

Is it worth learning Java 11 if Java 17 is available?

Yes, since Java 11 is still widely used and understanding its features is valuable for migration to Java 17.

How long will Java 17 be supported?

Java 17 will receive updates until at least September 2029.

What licensing changes came with Java 17?

Java 17 comes with a change that offers free commercial-use updates.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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