I find the ushop applets excellent and am waiting impatiently for version 3, however - i just installed a copy of comunicator 4.5 and it didn't install the ability to run java applets... i just wanted to know if this is common and what is the future of java support on browsers ?
Usually the installation of the Java Virtual Machine with the initial setting of "Java is enabled" ... is part of the standard (or "typical") installation of most browsers. Off hand, I can't say for sure with Communicator 4.5, but I do know that this was true back in 4.06 and more recently in Communicator 4.6, Communicator 4.7, and the latest version of AOL...which is basically Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0. So most installations will default to "Java Enabled".
As for the future of Java on the web, my opinion is that it is definitely here to stay. Java opens up many possibilities...many of which are still untapped. Of course there was the initial series of online games that Java made possible....but now more and more professional Java applications/implementations are appearing on the web. Take a look at the Oracle website, for instance, I believe they're going full-out with Java due to it's internet potential.