According to the KDE 4.6 road map, KDE 4.6 was released on January 26 of this year. I installed the plasma desktop and have about a week to play with KDE 4.6  and here is what I have found. I have included some KDE screenshots from my system.

The KDE team has fixed thousands of bugs and they really worked hard on this release. Thanks to them for all of their hard work. The new Plasma Desktop is really refined and, well beautiful. A huge improvement from previous releases. Improvements have been made to the Dolphin file browser. You can now integrate your network shares more easily and the indexing for searches is greatly improved.

The first thing I have noticed is how much faster the whole environment responds. The KDE plasmoids are fast and responsive. The menu structures move faster than previous releases. Some of the improvements are from improvements by QT, but most of them are from the work done by the KDE 4.6 team. KDE 4.6 did not cause any noticeable processor load on my machine. Previous editions of the KDE suite had given me some issues with run away processes.

Adding more plasmoids was easy and fast. All of the plasmoids that I tried out worked well. There are more plasmoids to be included in the KDE 4.6 feature plan. One of the plasmoids I really liked was the new network tool which worked with both wired and wireless networks. Small and just enough user feedback.

The taskbar now has launcher capabilities. You can drop tasks into the taskbar and use the bar as a smart launcher. Compiz worked after install without any tweaking. KDE has added Desktop Effects system settings to control the aspects of your Compiz desktop. KDE 4.6 handles the OpenGL acceleration very well. With the features added from the 4.6 improvements in combination with Compiz, this is one of the best looking desktops I have used.

All the software I had installed under Gnome worked well under KDE 4.6. Video playback was smooth with no chop. Some of my my favorite packages like Handbrake and the Chrome browser ran perfect, although theme integration with the GTK+ apps was not so great. KpackageKit in the past ran updates with out issues. I did have some issues with Amarok, the KDE Music player, still kind of buggy.

KDE 4.6 was the best release we have seen from the KDE team. More work is needed with integration with GTK+ applications. The plasma desktop is smooth, fast and refined, it’s easy to use and it just looks beautiful. This is what should have come out when they released 4.0, which left a bad taste in the mouths of KDE users. Hopefully KDE 4.6 will be in your distributions repositories shortly. KDE 4.6 is worth the update.

Review of KDE 4.6 was run on Fedora 14