WordPress.org has announced the availability of WordPress 3.2 (codenamed Gershwin), the fifteenth major release of the open source publishing platform. Version 3.2, which is dedicated to noted composer and pianist George Gershwin, is available as an update in your dashboard and a download on WordPress.org.

The focus for the 3.2 release was to make WordPress faster and lighter. 402 tickets were closed as part of version 3.2, according to Trac.

The update includes a refreshed dashboard design that tightens the typography, design, and code behind the admin. Twenty Eleven, the new default theme fully built in HTML5, fulfills the company's plan to replace the default theme every year.

The post editor has been redesigned and now includes a new distraction-free writing mode (click the full-screen button in the editing toolbar). All of the widgets, menus, buttons, and interface elements fade away to allow you to compose and edit in a completely clean environment. When you move your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, your most-used shortcuts will appear.

Under the hood, there have been a number of improvements, including the streamlining enabled by the previously announced plan of retiring support for PHP4, older versions of MySQL, and legacy browsers like IE6. The admin bar has a few more shortcuts to your most commonly-used actions. On the comment moderation screen, the new approve & reply feature speeds up your conversation management.

Gershwin was released only four months after version 3.1 (codenamed Reinhardt), which recently passed the 15 million download mark. As of the next version, WordPress will only update the files that have changed with each new release instead of every file in your WordPress installation. This should thus make updating significantly faster on all hosting platforms.