A forthcoming bitcoin software update will be the first to feature code that could be later activated and included as part of an effort to scale transaction capacity on the bitcoin blockchain.
Called the "most significant code change" in version 0.13.0, the new code added for Segregated Witness will not activate the change, but rather be the next step in preparing it to be eventually deployed, potentially in version 0.13.1.
The software update is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
While the feature has been tested extensively, bitcoin developers are seeking to democratize testing by activating the feature on the bitcoin testnet and in "regression testing mode", allowing a wider range of developers to test it out for themselves and report potential bugs or issues.
By adding the code now, Bitcoin Core developers believe Segregated Witness will be smoother and safer when released.
First proposed as a solution to bitcoin's long-standing block size debate last December, Segregated Witness is expected to increase the volume of transactions without altering the block size, the hard-coded limit on how much data can be included in transaction blocks.
The change will ultimately be triggered with a soft fork, in which the majority of the nodes need to update to make the change compatible with older versions of the software..
Computer code image via Shutterstock
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