Magento has now announced the availability of Magento 2 - it will be generally available from November 2015. The new version has been in testing for a long while now with much feedback from the Magento ecosystem - we are extremely confident in the quality of the product.
The main benefits of Magento 2 - per the official communications - are faster time to market & easier site maintenance, better scaleability & improved conversions. The most obvious "marketing-oriented" improvements for businesses & day-to-day e-commerce administrators are the streamlined checkout and the much-enhanced Admin Panel. The checkout has many fewer pages and clicks overall - this will surely benefit customers - as well as some much easier to use features (e.g. single click account creation prompt at the order confirmation page). Validation happens field by field (synchronously).
The new Admin Panel's visual appeal is immediate - it is now "touch-friendly". Product creation is a lot more straightforward; table views can be configured/customised & saved and they include in-line editing.
Performance is improved by the introduction of a separate database for order processing, reduced amounts of code, increased browser rendering, better image compression & static content cacheing.
Catalogue browsing & checkout performance has improved
General technical design improvements
These are delivered by a wide range of infrastructure innovations: a new framework library, better security, an integrated & automated testing framework, better module management and application of newer technologies (HTML5 & CSS3). Better scaleability is yielded by the separation of databases for checkout, orders & catalogues [see picture] and other optimisations mean that catalogue sizes and overall website capacity is increased.
Magento 2 roadmap
Magento is also planning a long list of improvements to Magento 2 and has already published a roadmap which includes in H1 2016 further performance & scaleability updates, better staging/preview functionality, a new search capability, more Admin Panel usability enhancements, multi-warehouse support & better B2B features.
Later in 2016, there will be further delivereables in promotions, merchandising, analytics & reporting, order management and workflow.
Support for Magento 1
The first question on all customers' lips will be: "what does this mean?" and "what should I be planning?" The bottom line is - at the end of the day - that Magento 1 customers should be planning to migrate over time.
The specifics will be driven by what version you are running and what support is available.
How do I upgrade?
Overall, our view is that this is not an upgrade - it's more of a re-build.
Magento is providing some migration scripts which will automate the migration of data (products & content etc). However, the front end will require substantial re-work to make it compatible with the new framework approach as will any functional customisations. 3rd party modules will require upgrading as well. Because it is close to being a rebuild on a new platform, it should be treated as an opportunity to re-think the website's navigation, usability and overall look and feel. For customers who do not yet have responsive websites (to cater for mobile devices), this could be the moment to gain that advantage.
Screen Pages' approach
Screen Pages - as a Gold partner - is working hard with Magento to ready itself for Magento 2 and to keep at the forefront of what Magento has to offer. Our senior development staff will be qualifying as "Magento 2 Trained"shortly and we shall be seeking certification for all staff on the new version.