PolicyKit integration is the most notable back-end change: this framework lets application developers request privileges from the OS without needing the all-or-nothing 'su'. On the user-visible side, 4.3 Beta 1 sports a new tree view option for System Settings, a fading desktop switcher, and new window animations. Here's the full changelog -- summary after the break.
- Sorting folders first in the file manager is optional
- Akonadi syncing with Google Calendar
- The clock can now speak!
- SVG-themed desktop and panel toolbox
- System tray can show icons based on category
Right now there's only source code and packages for OpenSUSE available, but no doubt packages for other distros will appear sharpish. If you give it a go, let the dev team know of any glitches and gremlins you may find!
Looking back for a moment, there's no question that KDE 4 has had a very rough ride. Certainly, version 4.0 was a disappointment for many users, lacking features and functionality to make the move from 3.5 worthwhile. Version 4.1 started to repair the damage, and 4.2 padded it out to be good all-round desktop (don't miss our top KDE 4.2 tips!). Will 4.3 be the first 4.x release to win over armies of Gnome fans?
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