First beta version of KDE 4
The KDE project has just released a beta 1 version of its next generation KDE 4 desktop environment. At the same time, interfaces to KDE libraries were frozen to allow application developers to use them for their work.
Besides the KDE base there have been enhancements to a number of individual applications: KMail has introduced the Tagging Patch to give users the ability to tag mails with custom categories and colors. KOrganizer now has a new look for schedules, which is reminiscent of Outlook, and can also display a Gantt diagram style view.
Marble is a completely new feature - a geography widget that shows views of the earth and accompanying information and provides them to other KDE applications, in a style similar to Google Earth. Google is sponsoring three students to work on Marble within the scope of the Google Summer of Code.
KDE's terminal application, Konsole, can now display clickable URLs; it also has a number of new tricks that relate to background colors, and it passes schema information to the terminal and applications such as Vim to allow color palette modifications. Additionally, views can be distributed over sub-windows.
In addition to this, the developers have improved integration of the Dolphin file manager with the Gwenview file viewer and Konqueror Web browser components. According to the project's plans, the final version of Konqueror will use the Rendering Engine Webkit, which originated with KHTML, but was forked and developed by Apple. The Koffice project has its own release cycle, and will be publishing the second alpha version 2.0 of its free office suite parallel to the KDE beta. Check out this announcement for more details
KDE 4 Beta 1 packages are available for Kubuntu and OpenSuse. And there is also a Live-CD to give users an easy option for trying out the new features. Additionally, the Mepis Linux distribution is looking to integrate the beta packages with its upcoming 7.0 release.