Before we detail the rationale behind this decision, let's make it absolutely clear that this decision does not mean GNOME will be removed from the installation routine. All it means is that in the desktop selection screen of the installer, KDE will be selected by default, with GNOME as the other option.
Michael Löffler of Product Management announced the decision on the opensuse-project mailing list. "After consideration of the project discussion I discussed the feature request further with the openSUSE Board and other leaders within the openSUSE project and came to the decision to follow the request: we will default the radio button to KDE in the DVD installer," he writes, "Therefore, with openSUSE 11.2 release, the KDE desktop will be installed if the user accepts the default setting. Users can also choose the GNOME desktop at this stage."
He further adds that GNOME will still be treated as a top-class and equal citizen, and that they will continue to strive to offer a top-notch GNOME implementation. "We want to make clear that both desktops are considered equal citizens within the openSUSE Project, and this will not have any impact on the quality of the GNOME desktop within openSUSE."
A good decision, and there was really no way around this one for the project. It was quite clear that KDE is the preferred desktop of a large majority of the openSUSE community, so it only makes sense to make it the default.