Bitcoin's eighth birthday was marked by a new software update.
Though all eyes may have been on the escalating price, Tuesday's software upgrade (to version 0.13.2) is the latest of many "minor version releases" published by the volunteer developer group known popularly as Bitcoin Core.
It might not be as big of a release as say, 0.13.0, but it rounds up a number of bug and performance fixes, including an upgrade that will allow the built-in wallet to react to memory pool (mempool) changes more appropriately. Other improvements include increased block relay speed on the network and changes that aim to make it easier for miners to adopt SegWit, the scaling solution that's been particularly contentious lately.
Major releases add additional features, while minor releases generally polish on those releases by way of bug and performance fixes making the software more robust (although consensus rules are also sometimes added in minor releases).
In total, 28 contributors made 55 changes merged into the release.
Similar releases often need a few rounds of testing (which each manifest in a new "release candidate"), but since no problems were reported since the first release candidate, the developer group packaged up and distributed it.
To make the upgrade (which developers suggest doing for a performance boost), users need to turn off their full node, install the latest version, then restart it. Not everyone upgrades to the latest software, but roughly 53% of nodes are now running version 0.13.0 or newer.
Meanwhile, the situation for the last release is arguably not ideal.
While an upgrade featuring the SegWit activation code was released in late October, only about 25% of miners have signaled support for the change, far from the 95% that will trigger the update.
Yet, despite this slow progress, this release indicates that developers are continuing to update the code.
Along those lines, Bitcoin Core is continuing work on the next major version, 0.14.0, which could be released as early as March 2017.
Generally, protocol developers appear to be focused on privacy and scalability improvements in the coming year.
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