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See Java Web Start.

Java Web Start

A mechanism for delivering full-blown Java applications from a Web server. The programs are initially downloaded using the browser but are run outside of the browser. Contrast with Java applets, which require an open browser window to stay active. Running on top of the Java 2 platform, Java Web Start caches the programs locally and automatically downloads updates on startup. The Java apps are packaged for deployment using the Java Network Launch Protocol (JNLP), which uses a descriptor file for defining the startup procedure. See applet.

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