KDE 4.2 will be the first release of KDE 4 that will be ready for everyone, and not just for developers and enthusiasts. The amount of bug fixes and new features is nearly endless, and includes a lot of the things that made people stick with KDE 3.x. The panel has been improved greatly, adding, among other things, grouping and multiple row layout in the task bar and icon hiding in the system tray. In addition, you can have a traditional desktop layout by putting folderview in fullscreen mode. There are also a lot of new features, such as a completely new printing configuration system, as well as PowerDevil, a new power management infrastructure.
KDE developer Alexander Dymo took a critical look at KDE 4.2, and concludes that despite a number of shortcomings, it's shaping up to be a great release. He might be a KDE developer, but he isn't shy of criticising his own project. For instance, he's unsatisfied with the default Oxygen style, which, according to him, suffers from some usability problems.
A new feature that won't make it into KDE 4.2 is the new KDE NetworkManager, which has received a massive Plasma overhaul thanks to Sebastian Kügler. It also takes advantage of KDE 4's Solid hardware abstraction layer. Even though the new plasmoid is far from ready ("at least three persons on this Planet have ever been able to connect to a wireless network using it"), but it's already shaping up nicely in the looks department, and fits in with the rest of Plasma much better than any previous versions.
KDE 4.2 is expected to be released on January 27, 2009.