What is a “Point Release”?

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With the arrival of WordPress 2.8.5, I mentioned to my good friend Dave Lee that this is a “point release”. He didn’t quite know what that meant, so I thought maybe I’ll share the knowledge.

Many if not all software projects have regular improvements that the coders come up with. Usually for reasons for security or some operational improvements. These improvements are indicated by a higher version number. As an example, Microsoft Office 2007 is a higher version number that Office 2003, because it’s a later release with major operational changes. Other examples:

  • WordPress 2.7 compared to WordPress 2.8
  • Filezilla 3.1 compared to Filezilla 3.2
  • Firefox 3 to Firefox 3.5
  • Internet Explorer 7 to Internet Explorer 8

After an initial release, minor bug fixes and non-major additions may be released, which improve the product, but don’t make fundamental changes. This is called a “point release”.

It usually means the overall look and feel of the product stays the same, and no major features are added (or removed for that matter). With point releases, you see version updates such as

  • WordPress 2.8.5 over 2.8.4
  • Filezilla over
  • Firefox 3.5.2 over 3.5.1
  • Internet Explorer 8.0.6001.18702 over an smaller number after the initial point

Usually, the higher the number after the point, the later your version is – and (apparently) the better your software should be working.

Hope this helps!

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