According to Seigo, much of the background work for these two projects will appear in KDE 4.3, with the first working prototypes scheduled for 4.4.
However, Seigo is almost as interested in the other changes due in 4.3. Greater integration with the operating system, Bluetooth and smart card support, mouseover thumbnails on folders, a geo-locator, releases of digiKam, Amarok, and KOffice for the 4.x series, increased integration of Nepomuk, the semantic desktop layer into file dialogs -- from the effortless way that he reels off the list of features and his enthusiasm about it, you can tell that these are efforts that he follows closely and with considerable passion.
I asked Seigo what might lie beyond 4.4, but he declined to say anything. "Anything beyond one or two releases beyond the current one gets a little speculative," he says. "While we have discussions internally, we prefer not to show our hand yet."
Having seen KDE 4.0 survive its premature birth and live to thrive, Seigo suggests that the recent history of the project has lessons for the greater free software community.
"The biggest thing we can do in the free software world right now," he says, "is realize that we have this great culture of excellent and enjoyment. If we nurture this community, it is very powerful and positive. We need to maintain that.
"At the same time, we need to be competitive with proprietary offerings. Because we've shown that, when we don't, people are pragmatic, and they will leave freedom and go back to proprietary platforms.
And, in the long run, that will leave us with nothing to show except for a strange group of people that work on something irrelevant. You have to be willing and able to move forward with innovative, cutting edge, push-the-boundaries technology. We need to really go, 'Hey, we're competing with these other two companies that are producing proprietary stuff, and are not about to just go away.' At the same time, we can't do that at the expense of what makes us healthy and vibrant and enjoyable. We have to do both at the same time, and I think we can."
However, despite the challenge he describes, Seigo is optimistic about the future of the free desktop. "I think that with this next year's round of releases and the drivers that are coming out in the next year for graphics chipsets, we are going to reach a new plateau of greatness. This operating system is going to become the smooth, well-functioning thing we wanted all along, and we're going to be able to enjoy things like the fancy desktops and the things no one else has like Nepomuk.
And it's going to be really exciting to be there for that. In ten years, we're going to look back and say, 'I was there when . . . ' This is another inflection point, and a good one."