KDE 4 unveiled to the public - 4.1 to appear in July 2008

Jan 31, 2008

In a keynote given at the world-wide release party, streamed online, Project Lead Aaron Seigo introduced the new version of KDE.

At the Google Campus in Mountain View, California, where there was a heavy security presence (no journalists were permitted to take any photographs of their own inside the building), Seigo explained the design objectives of the desktop, which has an intended lifetime of up to 10 years. He explained the three important principles that had guided the two years of development. The presentation should look appealing and modern, and generate an emotional response among users. As part of the Oxygen project, for example, over 1000 icons have been completely redesigned using the fully scalable SVG format.

The second design objective was to make the software as accessible as possible. According to Seigo, this went far beyond the integrated functions for users with special needs, such as the freely scalable magnifying glass. He also included the localization of the system into 60 languages, and its support for different hardware platforms, from mobile telephones and miniature PCs through to proprietary operating systems. The task of porting the desktop to Mac OS X and Windows had proven very simple, confirmed the corresponding porting project team leaders during their own short presentations.

The third emphasis, according to the keynote, was found in the new functionality that extended over numerous applications, including the new document viewer, Okular. This application can display several dozen file formats, and now also allows users to fill in forms. Users can take advantage of DRM functions, but administrators can also deactivate them. Many functions are available in the same way to all applications, including the Nepomuk search function, to which a semantic search facility has been added, or the multilingual correction function, Sonnet.

Seigo was obviously very happy with development so far, which he sees as leaving many other interfaces far behind in terms of technology. "Version 4.0 is just the beginning," he said, sketching out the further roadmap. The current release was, therefore, also targeted at power users who wanted to use the latest functions, systems integrators like Linux distributions, and primarily at software developers. While not all applications had yet been ported from KDE 3, it would still be possible to keep both versions running in parallel, according to Seigo.

The next version, 4.1, which the President of KDE e.V. Seigo announced for July this year, would then be accessible to the broad mass of users.

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