The final release of KDE 3.3, an open-source Linux desktop environment, is due in a few days and will give users greatly improved email facilities.
KDE is a popular desktop client for commercial Linux vendors with some, such as Novell's SUSE, offering it as their default desktop.
Chris Howells, a KDE developer, says that with this new release, KDE is strengthening its position against Microsoft.
"There has been a complete replacement of email to make it more like Outlook and Exchange Server, as this is one of biggest things stopping people migrating from Microsoft to KDE," says Howells. "For example, KDE 3.3 has a new program, Kontact, which combines all the programs into one interface -- like Microsoft Outlook."
Howells says that one area in which KDE still falls behind Windows is multimedia support, but this should be addressed in the next release, version 3.4. Other future improvements are due to be discussed at the KDE Community World Summit 2004, which will take place in Stuttgart from 21 to 29 August. Howells predicts that KDE 3.4 will be ready in the next 12 to 18 months.
Howells says KDE has various advantages over Windows, Microsoft's desktop counterpart, including fewer security problems, more flexibility and greater internationalisation -- the last release of KDE was released in approximately 50 languages. A Microsoft spokeswoman told ZDNet UK that at the moment Window XP supports 25 languages and that there are no plans to increase this number.
For more details on the new version of KDE 3.3, click here.