Today the KDE team makes available the first beta release of what will become KDE Software Compilation 4.4. KDE SC 4.4 Beta 1 is the first step in the official 4.4 development release cycle, which will be completed in February 2010 with the release of KDE SC 4.4.0.
Central goals for the KDE SC 4.4 release include the introduction of a variety of mobile, online and social networking features, new interface effects and tabbing/snapping in window management and of course many new and improved applications, games and workspace widgets.
There is a new smart automounter for removable storage. The device notifier now offers actions when a USB stick or DVD is inserted directly in its popup instead of a traditional window. The same technique makes it easier to add widgets to the workspace by showing widgets to add in a panel toolbox, and system-related Plasma widgets such as the battery monitor or network management now appear in the system tray instead of elsewhere on the panel. KRunner moves to the top screen edge when activated, allowing more search results on smaller displays, and has gained a wealth of new plugins including wiki searching, bookmark searching and contacts search.
Subtle yet efficient animations are now present throughout the user interface, in menus, window decorations and in applications, making using KDE software a smoother and more harmonious experience. Windows can be easily tiled to take up half the screen, or can be grouped as tabs within a single window.
Dolphin, the default file manager, gets a powerful search interface and supports further KDE software development by allowing interaction with version control systems. Digital photographers using Gwenview will enjoy a new import tool and better thumbnailing.
All applications will benefit from a new TimeLine virtual filesystem, giving access to recently used items. This is powered by a new high-performance semantic storage backend. KMail gets a number of workflow improvements, including an email archiving feature, tag searching and less intrusive error messages. The KGet developers have added support for digital signature checking and downloading files from multiple sources. New or entirely reworked applications will see the light of day in this release. Palapeli is a puzzle game which lets you do jigsaw puzzles on your computer. You can also create and share your own puzzles. Cantor is an easy and intuitive interface to powerful statistical and scientific software (R, SAGE, and Maxima). Blogilo is a new, easy to use application to write and post blogs.
Over the next months, the KDE community will finish and stabilize the improvements to the KDE software compilation. In about 2 weeks a second beta will appear and the first release candidate is expected to appear in the first week of January. The second candidate will be released in the fourth week of January, with February 9th the targeted final release date.