So it's a bit more clear to me re Java 6 vs Java 7. Basically for OS X only, Java 6 support continues without requiring getting a support contract. In particular, on my OS X laptop, I have a current Java 6 release when I switch my Java home accordingly:
$ java -version
java version "1.6.0_51"
(I usually run Java 7 of course.)
Having said that, I think it makes sense for us to move to Java 7 where it will plug specific bugs and gaps; experience has shown that it can be a lot easier for us to make pip and other applications work than trying to push changes upstream.
After then figuring this out on Java 7, we can then also selectively downgrade this capability, eg os.O_NOFOLLOW is available only on Java 7.This means pip doesn't work, but easy_install should. However, this requires a bit more workaround, so Java 6 support won't necessarily be immediately available in trunk as we make this transition.