Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope

Software versioning is a way to categorize the unique states of computer software as it is developed and released. The version identifier can be a word, or a number, or both. For example, version 1.0 is commonly used to denote the initial release of a program. There is no industry standard for how a version number should be formatted. For this reason, each computer companies has their own unique methods of assigning version numbers.

Types of version numbers

For instance, the Linux kernel developers use odd minor version numbers for development releases (which might not be stable for production, but are available for testing by the community). They often utilize minor version numbers for stable releases. With Apple computers since the release of OS X, starts all version numbers with 10 (since the Roman numeral X stands for 10), and then adds a major version number, which increments by 1. So the major versions of OS X have been numbered 10.1, 10.2, etc.

When versions are identified numerically, the numbers are assigned in increasing order. They usually take the form x.y.z, where "x" represents the major version, "y" represents the minor version, and "z" represents the number of the revision. For instance, version 1.3.22 would be major version 1, minor version 3, revision 22.

  • A major version number is incremented when there is a significant change to the code that might be incompatible with previous versions, such as a fundamental change of framework.
  • A minor version number is incremented when significant bug fixes are implemented, or a new feature is added.
  • A revision number is incremented when minor bug fixes are implemented.

"If at first you don't succeed, call it version 1.0."
-Unknown developer

Determining the version of software

Windows programs

Click Help in the menu bar at the top of the program, and then About.


If you don't see the File, Edit, View menu at the top of the screen try pressing Alt.

Microsoft Windows

Linux and Unix

Use the uname -a command.


You can see the version of most Linux commands by typing <command> -v, where <command> is the name of the command you want to know the version.

Microsoft DOS

MS-DOS users can determine their version by using the ver command.

Computer games

Computer games usually display the version in one of the four corners of the main window after they load.

Why are there different versions of software?

When a new feature is introduced, a bug is fixed, or a security hole is patched the version number is increased to help with identifying if the software installed has those improvements. Version numbering is especially important in corporate settings, where products and services may rely upon features specific to a certain version of the software.

Computer abbreviations, Patch, Point release, Release, Revision control, Rollback, Software build, Software terms, Trunk, Update