For quite some time know the KDE team thought about having a KDE 4 release party some months after the original KDE 4.0 release. According to that plan the KDE 4.0 release in October will be official, but not press-release-official – that one will be celebrated some months later.
The plan isn’t new and was already discussed around last Akademy. But now it seems to be official that the big KDE 4.0 release party for the press and industry partners will be around January – months after the originally targeted release date.
This indeed makes sense in certain circumstances: if you put some time between the release date and the party you have quite some advantages. Even a shifted release date wouldn’t spoilt the party, tickets can be booked in advance, people and work can be organized, etc. Also you can fix last-minute bugs and serious showstoppers. And 3rd party content providers and application developers can pick up the new platform and create an ecosystem. Think of new plasmoids, background images, new icon sets, themes, all the famous 3rd party KDE apps (digikam, konversation, k3b, kile, Amarok, ktorrent) and so on.
However, this decision also has quite some shortcomings: the release party is supposed to be the KDE 4.0 release party, not the 4.0.1 release party. That means that there will be no minor release between October and January – although the development will go on of course, and especially the bug fixing will continue. The question is how the October release will be called. The term Gamma was already mentioned and would fit to follow a Beta release, however it would be the first time that KDE comes up with a Gamma release I think.
In the end it doesn’t really matter for early adopters how the release is called. Most distributions (especially the KDE centric ones) are not going to pick up KDE 4 as default in the 4th quarter releases so there are no problems either. But this issue has to be explained to the industry and to the press and I wonder how these will take it. The KDE team will definitely have to work out some good explanation.
On the other hand there are strange release dates, version numbers and names all the time in the software world so this KDE 4.0 release thing might not be too strange.