Updated: 02/04/2024 by Computer Hope
v1.0 in blue lettering.

Software versioning is a way to categorize the unique states of computer software as it is developed and released. The version identifier is usually a word, 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 company has its 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). The developers often utilize minor version numbers for stable releases. With Apple computers and the release of OS X, all version numbers start with 10 (the Roman numeral X stands for 10) and then a major version number, which increments by 1. So, the major versions of OS X are 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 revisions. For instance, version 1.3.22 would be major version 1, minor version 3, revision 22.

  • A major version number is incremented when a significant code change that might be incompatible with previous versions, such as a fundamental change in 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 click About.


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

In newer versions of Microsoft Office applications, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, the following steps help you find the specific version.

  1. Click File in the menu bar at the top of the program window.
  2. In the left navigation menu, click the Account option near the bottom-left corner.
  3. In the right half of the window, click the option with the word About in the option name. For example, in Microsoft Word, click the About Word option.
  4. The version number is listed near the top of the About window, similar to the image below.

Version number in Microsoft Word 365 program.

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 with 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 new features are introduced, bugs are fixed, or security holes are patched, the version number is increased to indicate the installed software includes those improvements. Version numbering is especially important in corporate settings, where products and services may rely on features specific to a certain version of the software.

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