Big news from the current Perl conference YAPC Europe 2009 here in Lisbon is that Rakudo * (star) will be released in spring 2010. Rakudo is Perl 6 on Parrot, which is an equivalent to the JVM or CLI.
Is that an official Perl 6 release? Well, it is the nearest to official that you will see. The Perl 6 team are keen to point out that there will be no such thing as a official version, just different implementations. I guess they are looking at Python for their inspiration there.
This could be make-or-break for Perl. It shouldn't be, Perl 5 will continue no matter what, but the new stuff is what will make Perl cool again in the eyes of the fashion conscious. We all know that fashion is fickle, illogical, and driven more by hormones than intellect. We also know how important it is in decision making. Much as it would like to, the Perl community cannot pretend that Perl 6/Rakudo is too far away to worry about. It is six months away.
My worry is that expectations will be high - the release will be incomplete and they are very open about that. The Rakudo "pumpking" (project manager), Patrick Michaud, sees this as a test release to encourage people to write applications to find bugs and feed back into the development. Trouble is that companies have been burned too often in the past to invest in applications on an incomplete and possibly flaky platform.
The dilemma is that if something is not released soon then Perl will have missed the boat - which is already upping anchor and about to steam away.
Update: read the comments from Pm - they are very good.