KDE is no longer 'merely' a desktop environment for X; not only has it gone cross-platform, but it also brought forth a large body of applications like KOffice and Amarok that are not really part of the desktop environment. On top of that, KDE also refers to the entire community that has developed around the project.
A number of things are changing in the way the project will refer to itself and its products. First and foremost, KDE is no longer an acronym, meaning that the "K Desktop Environment" is a thing of the past. From now on, KDE will refer to the KDE community as a whole, while also acting as an umbrella brand for the technology created by this community.
"The expanded term 'K Desktop Environment' has become ambiguous and obsolete, probably even misleading," the team writes, "Settling on 'KDE' as a self-contained term makes it clear that we have made the shift from a limited set of software components to a community providing an ecosystem of free software applications and platforms for the end user on the desktop, mobile devices, and more."
Several components of the actual desktop environment will be renamed too:
- The KDE Workspaces will be separately referred to as "KDE Plasma Desktop" and "KDE Plasma Netbook"
- The KDE technologies used for building applications will be referred to as the "KDE Platform"
- The KDE Applications will stay as they are: "the KDE Applications"
- The product we currently have released as "KDE 4.3" is essentially a compilation of our software (Workspaces, Applications and Platform), and thus the next release will be named "KDE Software Compilation 4.4"
That last one looks a bit problematic to me, and the comments on The Dot picked up on that. It's quite clear to everyone what you mean when you say "KDE 4.3", but that's no longer what we're supposed to say. It'll take some time to get used to, and I have the sneaking suspicion it will be a long time - if ever - before the simple phrasing "KDE 4.x released" is replaced by the new, appropriate term.
In any case, this rebranding scheme does make sense, since KDE has indeed become so much more than just a desktop environment. Please, dear KDE people, do be nice to me when I accidentally use the 'old' designations in the next KDE release item.