Java Applets are simply java programs that are run by a special client (i.e. a web browser).
The main differences between this and a normal Java Application are the restrictions placed on it.
The Security of Applets is very high, they can not (can be enabled in some browsers) view/read or write to your hard drive,
This is by design as you may not have a hard drive or you may not want anyone tampering with it, also they can not connect to other internet domains (again some browsers allow this).
If the applet was allowed to connect to any domain any inoccent user could active an applet on a web page and it would send nasty messages to any server on the network/internet, or at least send blocking data stopping normal data getting to the server.
The Applet must be prepared for any envetuality that can happen in the browser like the page changing or being resized.
Most internet browsers will support Java, either directly or via a plugin see your browsers documentaion for more information.
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