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WordPress 3.2 in with the new - out with the old. The focus for this release was making WordPress faster and lighter.Moving forward has enabled some impressive improvements. The streamlining enabled retiring support for PHP4, and older versions of MySQL, and legacy browsers like IE6, which allows WordPress to take advantage of more features enabled by new technologies.

Overview of improvements

  • Refreshed Administrative UI - Admin redesign
  • New Default Theme "Twenty Eleven" - Uses the latest Theme Features
  • Full Screen Editor - Distraction free writing experience
  • Extended Admin Bar - More useful links to control the site

New Requirements

  • PHP 5.2.4 or greater (old requirement - since WordPress 2.5 was PHP 4.3 or greater)
  • MySQL 5.0.15 or greater (old requirement - since WordPress 2.9 was MySQL 4.1.2 or greater)

We've created a tutorial for anyone confused by version levels and the upgrade process. You might want to read it if you're not confident with upgrading.

  • Enhanced Browser Compatibility -
  • Drop Internet Explorer 6 support
  • Start End-of-life (EOL) cycle for Internet Explorer 7
  • Browse Happy notify users of out-of-date browser

Refreshed dashboard design 

You'll notice faster page loads with the new version. They have analyzed the most used pages and optimized them for speed. There is also optimization of WP_Filesystem this will make updates over FTP much quicker and less error prone. Updates will also be faster. The update system now supports incremental upgrades. So only individual files will upload instead of replacing the entire installation. This will make upgrading faster on every hosting platform.

There are usability improvements for both users and administrators. They include some streamlining of the menu system some new links for admins, and new features in the admin section. Like the ability to validate code from within admin. I like that convenience.The updates notices are consolidated on a single page, and you can install all updates for all plugins plus WP itself in a single location.

There are small useablility changes too, like changing menu titles from 'Posts' to 'All Posts', 'Links' to 'All Links', 'Pages' to 'All Pages' Simple but effective, especially for new users. Some permission dependent options have changed a bit. For example, It now shows the sticky posts checkbox ("Stick this post to the front page") Only when the author has 'edit_others_posts' capability,

There are some new styles for the Visual editor buttons and a brand new one - Full screen editor experience called Distraction Free Writing - accessed via the Toggle Fullscreen mode tool in the Visual editor and fullscreen button in the HTML editor.

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When you click this button the editor takes over the entire screen, and all the controls fade out, so it looks like you are typing on a blank page, until you move your mouse toward the top, when basic controls reappear. It's supposed to remove all distractions so you can concentrate on writing. It's a nice idea, but time will tell if it's a useful idea.

New Twenty Eleven Theme

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It has all the current theme features:

  • Post Thumbnails
  • Navigation Menus
  • Widgets
  • Post Formats
  • Custom Backgrounds
  • Custom Headers
  • Editor Style
  • Automatic Feed Links

The new theme looks much like the Twenty Ten theme but there are improvements. Probably the biggest change is the Showcase Page Template and the ability to have multiple rotating header images to highlight all of your favorite photos. Plus more expanded background and header choices.

Here's a link to the demo http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/twentyeleven

Here's the description from the WP site:

"The 2011 theme for WordPress is sophisticated, lightweight, and adaptable. Make it yours with a custom menu, header image, and background -- then go further with available theme options for light or dark color scheme, custom link colors, and three layout choices.

Twenty Eleven comes equipped with a Showcase page template that transforms your front page into a showcase to show off your best content, widget support galore (sidebar, three footer areas, and a Showcase page widget area), and a custom "Ephemera" widget to display your Aside, Link, Quote, or Status posts.

Included are styles for print and for the admin editor, support for featured images (as custom header images on posts and pages and as large images on featured "sticky" posts), and special styles for six different post formats. "

If you want a complete detailed list of all changes you can visit the WP Codex and read the latests summary. http://codex.wordpress.org/Version_3.2