Version Number

What Does Version Number Mean?

A version number is a unique sequence of numbers which identifies the state of development of computer software. It is used to identify the exact build of the software under development, and hence can be used as a reference to what changes have been made between version numbers, which increment with every new function or bug fix added to the code of the software.


Though there is no definitive numbering standard, the usual scheme is using one digit followed by a decimal and a number of decimal places that the developers agree upon, such as version 1.023.

A version number is also known as a release number.

Techopedia Explains Version Number

Version numbers are essential for keeping track of incremental development (revision control) and knowing which versions of the software perform well or badly. This helps developers quickly see differences in the code and find causes of problems. For example, if the software was running fine on version 1.34 but keeps crashing on version 1.35, then the search can be narrowed down to what code was introduced in 1.35 that broke the functionality and then a solution to the problem can be formulated.

Commonly, sequence-based version numbering is done to simply convey the timeline of development, but that is where the commonality ends. Each company or development team has their own standards that usually only they themselves can understand. Some just increment a decimal value while others use two to three decimal points to convey the significance of changes made on the software. Yet others incorporate letters and even actual names into the mix. But in the opinion of many, incorporating dates in version numbers make more sense. This is especially true for consumers who are only concerned whether they are using the latest software and that it actually works, so in this case dates make the most sense. That is why a lot of software states the year of release in the title, such as Windows 95, 98 and 2000 or Office 2007, 2010 and 2013.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.