The K Desktop Environment (KDE) Project has announced that the third version of its KDE3 desktop platform, called KDE 3.2, is available for Linux and Unix operating systems.
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KDE3 is an integrated desktop product including web browsing, e-mail and instant messaging software.
Application start-up times and web page rendering have been increased and refinements to the interface ease product use. The upgrade complements a recent update to the KOffice office suite.
Latest applications include Kopete, an IM product which supports competing IM products; KWallet, for the storage of passwords and web form data; and Kontact, which pulls together KDE's e-mail, calendar, address book and other personal information products.
KDE's desktop applications are used in SuSE Linux's desktop operating system.
Chris Schlaeger, SuSE's vice-president of research and development, said that the KDE software upgrade will be integrated into the next version of SuSE's desktop operating system, due in the next few months.
The KDE 3.2 will be made available immediately through SuSE's website, but will not be officially supported until it has been fully integrated into the latest version.
"People can use it [with SuSE], but if they have problems installing it or running it they're pretty much on their own," he said.
However, Gartner analyst Brian Gammage said that latest versions of open-source software are somewhat "below the radar" for most business users.
Moves to open source rather than Microsoft products are often driven by sentiment rather than business reasons, he said.
"Linux is a very viable alternative for certain groups of people, but not everyone wants to be running what is effectively a Unix workstation. The reality is that organisations and the majority of home users want easy-to-manage personal computing, and moving to a new platform takes a major effort," he said.
KDE 3.2 is available in 42 languages with 32 other translations under way. Work is also under way on integrating accessibility technologies for people with disabilities.
Gillian Law writes for IDG News Service