WordPress 2.9 has just been released, in fact the WP Development Blog has a post date of December 19th! (not sure what time zone they are in). This version includes many of the features users have been seeking since the major 2.8 release back in the spring:
1: Global undo/”trash” feature, which means that if you accidentally delete a post or comment you can bring it back from the grave (i.e., the Trash). This also eliminates those annoying “are you sure” messages we used to have on every delete.
2: Built-in image editor allows you to crop, edit, rotate, flip, and scale your images to show them who’s boss. This is the first wave of our many planned media-handling improvements.
3: Batch plugin update and compatibility checking, which means you can update 10 plugins at once, versus having to do multiple clicks for each one, and we’re using the new compatibility data from the plugins directory to give you a better idea of whether your plugins are compatible with new releases of WordPress. This should take the fear and hassle out of upgrading.
4: Easier video embeds that allow you to just paste a URL on its own line and have it magically turn it into the proper embed code, with Oembed support for YouTube, Daily Motion, Blip.tv, Flickr, Hulu, Viddler, Qik, Revision3, Scribd, Google Video, Photobucket, PollDaddy, and WordPress.tv (and more in the next release).
The biggest headache for WordPress users has been the constant (sometimes daily) need to upgrade plugins. If you are like me who tries out different versions of plugins, which essentially do the same actions (like SEO or Twitter tools), this can become tiresome as each one needed to be upgraded individually. Now there is the ability to auto-upgrade up to 10 plugins at once.
Having not tried the image editor yet I cannot comment on its practicality, but it might be useful for users/bloggers who are not Photoshop savvy, or working from netbooks.
Video embeds. This should be useful as a more intuitive format for users (and quicker). Currently I hack around between the visual post system and html – going to html and wrapping Youtube embed links into code/ – /code. That works, but limits formatting options.
According to WP developers the expected 3.0 release, due in the spring of 2010 should include a new default theme and improvements.
WordPress 2.9 is a worthwhile upgrade and easy to install directly from the dashboard. Remember to backup your database and files first. It is also available for download.