The first beta announcement provided a comprehensive list of high level improvements made since Drupal 5.x, so in this announcement we'll concentrate on how you can help ensure that Drupal 6 is released as soon as possible and is as rock solid as the previous Drupal releases that you've grown to love!
There are a number of modules already ported to Drupal 6. A list of already released updates is available on the modules page by selecting 6.x from the drop-down menu. For all other modules that don't yet have 6.x compatible releases, keep your eye on the modules' issue queues or on the Drupal 6.x contributed module status page to get an idea on the upgrade time-frame.
Status of some of the most well known modules: CCK has a Drupal 6 compatible development version available for testing purposes, and a beta release is expected to be available soon, while a final, stable release will likely be delayed until a 6.x release of Views is ready for testing (more status information). Views is undergoing major changes, and will likely not be ready before the middle of February at the earliest.
Drupal.org has not yet been upgraded to the latest Drupal 6 development version since some contributed module dependencies are not yet ready. The biggest obstacles to getting drupal.org updated are the 6.x updates for project module, and image module. Project module has also been making changes that will make it dependent on Views for some functionality.
If you are a module maintainer, now is the time to work on the update to Drupal 6! Read on for more details.
How do I help test the release candidate?
Start by either installing a new Drupal site or upgrading an existing one running on Drupal 5.x (see INSTALL.txt or UPGRADE.txt in the package for some important instructions). Direct upgrades from 4.7.x are no longer supported. When setting up a new site, you can use the development module to generate some test data (content, users, etc) to help you start testing quickly. As with everything still in development, we do not recommend running release candidates on a live site. Also, always be sure to make a backup of your data before performing any upgrade or starting testing.
Module and theme developers
If you have not done so already, now is the time to ensure that your modules and themes will work with the new version of Drupal. The updating your modules and updating your themes pages have plenty of information to help you with the migration to Drupal 6. Please help ensure that your users will have a smooth and well tested upgrade path in the not to distant future! Be sure to file any bugs that you may find while updating your module or theme.
Drupal interface translators
The interface strings of Drupal 6.0 were officially frozen with the release of Drupal 6.0 RC1. Only critical fixes, and corrections to the interface text are allowed during the release candidate phase of development. You will find that Drupal 6 comes with the most interface text updates ever, and is hopefully also easier to translate. Translation templates are available to teams working with Gettext PO files directly. Note that the placement of translation files, and the Drupal 6 translation package structure is different from Drupal 5, so be sure to read the instructions so you can get the most out of your existing Drupal 5.x translations. A small number of changes to the interface strings have been necessary since Drupal 6 RC2 was released.
Are you gifted with the "Poison Finger"? Does seemingly normal code collapse into a flying mess of errors as soon as you get hold of the mouse? If so, why not have a run at breaking Drupal? When you discover a bug, check the issue queue to see if someone else has already found it. If your suspected bug hasn't been reported yet, please submit a bug report! The more bugs we can find and fix before the final release, the better.
When will Drupal 6 get released?
Drupal 6.0 final will be released after (a) there are no more critical bugs and (b) we've had at least one release candidate without adding any more to the list. When will that be? Well, it depends entirely on you! The more you chip in and help out, the faster we can find and fix bugs, and the faster 6.0 gets released. The faster 6.0 gets released, the faster we can all start adding fancy new features to Drupal 7.0! So please help out where you can, and let's make this the best and most solid release of Drupal yet!