After a lot of work by the Joomla Development Team and the Joomla Bug squad, Joomla 1.6 has hit Release Candidate 1 status. The developers are hoping this will be the only Release Candidate. If no major bugs are found, it will undergo a final security audit and be officially released on January 10th. We have it installed and our team's learning their way around it. You can see how it looks straight 'out of the box' at http://j16.3by400.com.
What's new in Joomla 1.6? Several major things.
Instead of the section-category-article heirarchy, you'll be able to have categories nested as deeply as you want. No more sections. You'll also be able to define new groups of users, each with their own permissions, rather than the old registered-author-editor-publisher roles. All in all, it makes Joomla much more robust and flexibe.
So what does this mean for you? Once 1.6 is out and stable, I expect that in the first half of 2011 the Joomla team will be announcing the phasing out of Joomla 1.5, and the major component and template providers will be releasing 1.6 compatible versions of their products. When we get that information, we can make informed decisions about migrating your sites to 1.6.