We all play it. Every hacker, code monkey, and developer that produces a piece of software - The Version Number Game. Version numbers are suppose to represent the progress of a piece of software makes over time. The problem with this system is that there is no uniformly accepted standard for numbering the version of your application. From a certain perspective, I can understand this. Many pieces of software are different, so to try and define one standard for numbering all of them is a bit of an unrealistic task.
The problem is that even applications of the same function do not follow similar version number releases. If you have been around the Linux world for more than a minute then you have heard of both Ubuntu and Debian Linux. Debian first released almost 18 years ago and they just celebrated their sixth stable release. Ubuntu on the other hand is preparing for their version "11.04" release in a couple months after having existed for not even seven years.
If you have never touched Linux before then two FOS applications I am sure most of you are familiar with are Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome. These are two very popular webrowsers, that follow two very different version cycle releases. Firefox was initially released in the fall of 2004 and nearly seven years later they are on the verge of their fourth release. Chrome on the other hand has been on the market for not even three years and they are set to release versions ten and eleven by the end of the year.
Some developers realize that this is very much a game and they choose not to play it. The Debian team does not plan on artificially inflating their number of versions any time soon (at least as far as we know). Mozilla on the other hand seems to be caving to the pressure, they recently announced that they plan to release Firefox versions 4, 5, 6, and 7 by the end of 2011. Thats right, in the next ten months Mozilla plans to release more versions of Firefox than they have in the last six years. Personally I feel this is very unnecessary, Mozilla's past release cycle has been plenty fine and meaningful - it has accurately represented the progress of the browser.
What do you think of the version number game all our developers are playing? Is it necessary to produce 3+ "versions" of your piece of software per-year just to stay noticed?