Hail the Konqueror one of the most heavily used components in any desktop environment is the file manager, and this is particularly the case with KDE because its Konqueror file manager does double duty as the environments default Web browser. It makes sense, then, that as in previous releases, the most noticeable changes in KDE 3.2 are in Konqueror.In another tab-related refinement we appreciated, we could set up our system so that once one instance of Konqueror was open, new file manager or browser windows (such as those launched when users follow a Web link out of an e-mail message) opened as tabs in that first Konqueror window. We could configure Konqueror to pre-load an instance or more of itself in memory, which shortens the amount of time a Konqueror Web browser or file manager window takes to appear when called. If pre-loading had any effect on Konqueror launch times on the system we tested, we didnt notice it; Konqueror launched quickly either way. New in KDE 3.2 is Kontact, a groupware application that corrals the self-descriptively titled KMail, KAddressbook, KOrganizer and KNotes into a single, Outlook-ish interface. Kontact is fairly rough-looking compared with Outlook and Evolution, and Kontacts KMail cant fetch mail from Exchange servers unless theyve been set up for Post Office Protocol or IMAP, both of which KMail supports. In Version 3.1 of KDE, we were interested in checking out KOrganizers support for accessing Microsoft Corp.s Exchange 2000-based calendars, but we werent able to get it working. In Version 3.2, the option to link to Exchange calendars appears gone for now. We hope to see Kontact include Exchange support in future versions. We were impressed with the range of import and export filters for KAddressbook, an area weve found lacking in Evolution. KDE 3.2 comes with a new, multiprotocol IM application, called Kopete. We tested Kopete with MSN, AOL and Yahoo IM accounts and found it fairly similar in function to the popular multiprotocol IM client Gaim. We were pleased to see the addition of KwiFiManager, a wireless networking setup and monitoring tool, which, along with support for Linux ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) in the KLaptop tool, will improve users KDE laptop experience. Along similar lines, KDEs remote desktop connection tool now supports Microsofts Remote Data Protocol, the protocol used by Microsofts Remote Desktop feature in Windows XP. We noted last week that GNOME has gained new accessibility tools, and KDE has done the same. Version 3.2 has a screen magnifier and a mouse-click tool, as well as Kmouth, an application for speaking synthesized sentences. Kmouth had to be set up with a separate application for handling the text-to-speech synthesis, but it wasnt clear from the interface how to do this. Discuss this in the eWEEK forum. Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were happy to see tabbed windows make their way into Konqueror in Version 3.1, but we thought they could have been implemented better. For instance, as we opened new windows, space on the tab bar quickly ran short, and inactive tabs started getting pushed out of sight. In the 3.2 alpha, tabs for open windows shrink to make way for one another, which is how Mozilla manages its tab bar.