Anyhow other popular packages such as ...
*. The default web browser is Firefox 5 (although Mark Shuttleworth said in the future Ubuntu will be switching to the Google Chrome).
*. GCC compiler 4.6.1
*. Thunderbird 5.0 which is the new e-mail client. Still you can use the previous favorite Evolution via the online repositories.
*. Mesa 7.11 - Another very important "library" for both Gnome 3 and the Compiz "loving" Unity 3D desktop since this is the 3D graphics rendering "engine" used by Composting window managers.
*. Gnome 3 support - Yes finally!. But that does not mean that Ubuntu 11.10 will come with Gnome 3 in the LiveCD. It won't happen but at least Gnome3 is officially supported by Ubuntu so we could easily install it rather than worrying much about compatibility or the stability in that case.
*. LightGM - Yes!. Although it was expected to "hit" with the Alpha version1 which didn't happen. But this time now the GDM is replaced with the LightGM (login manager). The release page says not to report bugs because right now, the themes are at their preliminary stage... so we gotta give 'em some time.
*. DejaDup - If you haven't heard about this one, then it's an excellent backup utility which even supports sending your backup files to the Cloud storage facilities with ease.
*. Unity 2d - Unlike right now, this will be used as the "fall back mode". So if you hardware aren't capable of messing around with the Compiz and other advanced OpenGL graphics, then unlike with the 11.04 version, Ubuntu 11.10 comes with the Unity 2D desktop interface (written in Qt) that does not require any 3D rendering thus will be replacing the Gnome classical desktop!.
Although there are just a few of the new improvements of the Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 release but I gotta admit (as anyone would) that unlike with the Alpha1 release, this does bring some new features (such as the Kernel and LightGM, etc) and major changes which were long expected. As usual other versions of the Ubuntu desktop such as Xubuntu and Edubuntu are also released the Alpha 2 versions of their own. But Kubuntu version is not (and will not) available in the Alpha 2.
Oh and one more thing. If you have an "OLD" ATI GPU such as R3xx to R5xx, then the 3D unity desktop may not work because of bugs. And if you want a stable Ubuntu OS then do not upgrade since these packages are still in testing, unless you wanna get into trouble ;-). You can read more from this official release page (including upgrading instructions, etc). Good luck.