First off which i think everyone who has replied missed and or miss understood was about how long this project has taken. Which i can help with. CVC was down most if not all of April of which caused the project to be delayed. And ( Staff correct me if i am wrong ) back in the early winter/late last fall one of the core people who were working on this project left which shorted them here till a replacement was found.
Now onto the part about SMF. It isnt open source BUT it IS FREE. The only thing they charge for is for a little extra support and whenever they do updates the people who paid get the first release before the general public does. The rest that the poster said about smf having features/etc phpbb doesnt have is true with the exception of AJAX ( I may have Ajax confused with something else though so dont quote me on this). However i will give phpbb3 a big edge on layout because it will feature announcements as they should be with a nice seperater as well between them and the normal topics. SMF announcements feature imo stinks. And as well phpbb3 will have moderation QUE something that isnt in smf. Yet anyways. In short if you have trouble members a admin can make it so anything they post will have to be first approved by a staff/moderator/admin whoever person. The only 2 things that i do like that smf has is quick reply ( Which will never be seen here unfortunatly) and their package manager which is for board updates/mods/and templates/skins.
Onto the part about which gets used the most often phpbb and or SMF etc. As NeoThermic correctly pointed out phpbb is the largest as far as opensource goes. However as far as just FREE goes i would have to leand my hand to smf just by the sheer amount of users they have online in a given day on their support forums amongst other things. However online users alone cannot alone say who uses what more.
And now back to the part about how long this project has taken. I'll agree that it has taken forever. However other then the answers i provided i cannot honestly say why else it has taken so long. FREE or not anyone OUTSIDE of the core group of people here will probably say that it has taken longer then needed. But something i think alot of people seem to forget ( Myself included ) is that there really no promises ever made that phpbb will or would stay ahead of everyone else. It is their project. So dont be mad at them for not getting a newer version out before anyone else. My only thing is that i wish that they would not get a bad attitude towards people when they state that it has taken to long. Allthough i do agree that a ton of people saying the same thing everyday must get old after awhile.
And lastly i believe the topic starter was referring to BETA
What im trying to ay is phpBB should of released this public test version a year ago.
What exactly is "soft delete"?
And seeing how i am not exactly sure what ajax is can someone explain that as well? What purpose does it serve?