So as I was sitting here typing away in WordPerfect (Mac) version 3.5e, it suddenly occurred to me that we are in a Version 3 Era, with so many s/w packages standing at version 3.x – AOL is at 3.3, Adobe Photoshop recently released 3.3 as well, FileMaker Pro is now at 3.2, and venerable Netscape has its 3.4 version available for download. And regardless of whether you are running MacOS 7.8.1 or Windows 4.2, you’ve got to admit these are all well-seasoned…huh?
::sound of alternative-reality curtain parting::
No, I don’t suppose you HAVE heard of those versions.
You would have if version-numbering had continued on its original trajectory. AOL software (bless its inefficiently compiled little heart) spent a long long time climbing the ladder from version 2.0 to 2.7 as various features were added and improved upon, and the 3.0 release was deserving of the digit, but nothing since then has deserved more than a decimal point. Adobe Photoshop’s version 3.0 was a superlative release, with its separate layers that were so much easier to work with than channels alone, but aside from confusing the hell out of us by moving all the menu commands, keystroke equivs, and palette items around, has Adobe done anything to Photoshop aside from minor treaking since then? I suppose the text-editing layer of what they called version 5 might have been worth a full version number to some folks, but even then by no stretch ought they to be claiming anything beyond 4.x! FileMaker’s 3.0 was the incredible jump from flat-file + some cute tricks you could do with lookups and calling external scripts to fully relational, but has anything that’s been added since justified ratcheting up the version numbers like they’ve been doing? And Netscape…oh please! Only the Java has made version 3.0 substantially different from what they call 6.
Apple is heralding the coming of X, an awkward visual pun combining the “X” of Unix and X-windowing with the “X” of Roman numeral ten, but to get to ten they had to sprint from an 8 that wasn’t spectacularly different from 7 (certainly no more than 7.5 was different from 7.1) and a so-called MacOS 9 that looks and feels a hell of a lot like 8. Heck, Apple spent years improving good old System 6 back in the late 80s and early 90s and STILL was calling it version 6.0.8 when they retired the series, relegating all their modifications to the lowly status of bug fixes in a burst of candor not repeated since.
You notice the prominent lack of any mention of that software company from Redmond. Yeah, Microsoft dodges the bullet by replacing version numbering entirely with year-release dates. So what if Windows98 was not the jump from Windows95 that Windows95 was from Windows 3.11? Did they ever say otherwise? No, they just did their darndest to imply that it was a must-have upgrade for which you should pay more money, and never mind that sub-version upgrades are conventionally free or at least cheaper than that. So they stand above the fray of this diatribe, as it obviously isn’t their fault that the average end user doesn’t realize that Windows Millennium Edition is to Windows95 no more than what 4.2 would be to 4.0 if they were still using numbers…right?
But a completely sincere three cheers for WordPerfect, the version of which on the Mac side still starts with a 3 even after Novell bought the original company and then sold the works to Corel, both corporations having folded in some changes and made new releases along the way. It is a genuine 3 and a pretty nice word processor and if Corel changes their mind and continues to develop the product, I’ll continue to acquire the upgrades as they make improvements.
Even if they don’t try to call it “version 6” and tout it as the biggest thing since the arrival of the mouse and the GUI.