An anonymous reader writes "Excerpts from the announcement: 'This release is a giant step forward from the 1.4 release. In this release, we have replaced many deprecated packages and libraries with new technologies available in GLib. We have also added a lot of new features (...) MATE 1.6 is the result of 8 months of intense development and contains 1800 contributions by 39 people, and more than 150 translators.' See the release notes for a list of changes and new features."
They've unforked a number of old GNOME 2 libraries, relying instead of technology from GLib/Gtk+ 3 and other projects where it makes sense. None of the new features really stand out on their own, but it looks like there are dozens of small improvements that should make the desktop experience more pleasant.