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I did some experiments on that last year. Basically the APPLET tag works on every browser on every platform with the exception of IE, where you have to use the OBJECT tag. It seems to me that the APPLET tag will be supported forever, with that exception, regardless of what it may say in the HTML standard. Provided you don't use HTML strict mode. I do, everywhere except in my one page that contains an applet tag.
Thanks for the answer. I just coded a test applet without JNLP and using the applet tag and, glory be, it works in IE8! Presumably it works in IE9, too. As for IE7/6/5 etc, well, that's just too bad; it's high time to desupport these antiquities.
OTOH a friendly tester told me that the plugin2 version of the applet works even on the Mac but only with the Chrome browser. I am baffled by this since I don't see what would make Chrome special (AFAIK it doesn't bundle its own Java) and would like it double-checked but, not having a Mac myself, I cannot investigate. Can anyone confirm of deny?
Backtracking a bit, it seems clear from the docs:
that the applet/object/embed tag issue is orthogonal to the new vs. classic plug-in issue. So my question still stands: if you want to use the classic plug-in, exactly what must you do/not do? I can't find any clear write-up on that anywhere.
That's what I answered. I also included JNLP in those tests but found, like you, that contrary to its claims it doesn't work on all browsers and platforms. What I said above does, at least for all the platforms I tested. That wasn't exhaustive, as I didn't test all operating system or browser versions, but it did include Windows and Mac, and IE6/7/8, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome, and I think others.