KDE 4.1 Review: The Rocky Road of the New KDE
With its 4.1 release, KDE is taking few chances. While the 4.0 release's announcement emphasized excitement and significance, the tone of the announcement for 4.1 is more subdued. This time, the announcement talks about maturing technologies and underlying improvements, and the only claim is that the 4.1 desktop "can replace the KDE 3 shell for most casual users."
The change of tone seems a direct result of the numerous complaints about KDE 4.0, which somehow reached end-users' hands despite warnings that it was a development release. However, whether the 4.1 release will silence the complaints depends very much on individual users' tolerance for change, their willingness to customize, and the degree to which the available programs fit their needs. Only after these considerations, I suspect, will users get around to exploring everything that is new in 4.1, much less to appreciating it.
Working with the desktop
In general terms, the 4.1 desktop offers only minor obstacles to those using it for the first time. Despite obvious changes, navigating the desktop shouldn’t offer any serious problems. The upper right corner displays a desktop toolkit, and some changes, such as the replacement of the Control Center with a settings dialog, may be momentarily puzzling. But in general, all the expected desktop elements are present, including the panel and the menu.