This is a follow up question to

What version number format would give users the most reassurance?

I've noticed that many software programs have the tendency to avoid large version numbers... some preferring to change the name of the software before the version number gets too large. Of course, there are some exceptions, like Ubuntu, make it to double digit version numbers (version 14 as of the date of this question).

Is there any reason why it is preferable to avoid large version numbers? Is there a marketing psychology reason for this? Or is there any other reason to avoid large version numbers?

  • 1
    I don't think it's a valid assumption that "many software programs have the tendency to avoid large version numbers." Can you provide evidence of that? (I'm using Chrome 40.0.2214.93 m, MS Office 14.0.7128.5000, and Snagit 11.2.0.) Jan 28 '15 at 18:19
  • That is my question you link. I have found the opposite. My experience is long version numbers.
    – paparazzo
    Jan 28 '15 at 18:32
  • Ubuntu is a "rare bird" as the version number is the year when it was launched. Ubuntu 14.04 was launched in April 2014. Firefox and Chrome have marketing-driven version numbers. In my opinion both are confusing as they do not relate to a benefit for the user, unlike semantic versioning (semver) numbers.
    – Osvaldo
    Jan 28 '15 at 20:50

It's recommended that software version numbers follow Semantic Versioning (Semver) principles.

Large version numbers may indicate many incompatible API changes and usually it's not a good sign. Major API changes are not backwards compatible and sometimes may require learning the basics again.

From the Semver site :

Given a version number MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH, increment the:

  • MAJOR version when you make incompatible API changes,

  • MINOR version when you add functionality in a backwards-compatible manner,

  • and PATCH version when you make backwards-compatible bug fixes.

For more information check Semver.org

  • 3
    While I agree with you 100% from a developers point of view, your post doesn't answer the question. The issue is how users will perceive large version numbers.
    – JohnGB
    Jan 28 '15 at 21:00
  • This answer only applies to software that adheres to Semantic Versioning requirements, such as exposing a public API. Jan 29 '15 at 4:17

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