Digging into WordPress Versions – How Many and What’s the Difference?

August 25, 2016 Emily Johns Wordpress

WordPress has indeed taken the online world by storm. There is no denying that it is one of the most popular and most preferred Content Management Systems that has made it extremely easy even for the non-technical user to build sites without ever touching a single line of code. Powering millions of websites from around the world, WordPress not only excels in the world of blogging but also as a software capable of powering every type of business – from websites with limited pages to massive e-stores and media sites with hundreds of different pages.

If you are familiar with WordPress, you would know that WordPress has been launched in various versions of WordPress 4.5 being the latest version.

The Early Years

WordPress was first launched in May 2003 with a joint effort of Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. Various other names collaborated with Little and Mullenweg including developer Dougal Campbell, French Programmer Michel Valdrighi and a small WordPress team in April 2004 and released a hub called Ping-O-Matic to notify search engines that a blog has been updated.

Various Versions and their features:

Wordpress update infographic

2004 – They introduced WordPress plugins in April 2004 with version 1.2.

2005 – Static pages and Theme system were introduced with Version 1.5 (Strayhorn), proceeded by tenacious caching, a new backend User Interface and a new user role system in Version 2.0 (Duke).

2007 – A new User Interface, spell check, auto save, spell check and various other features were released in Version 2.1 (Ella). It also came along with speed optimizations, Atom Feed Support and widgets in Version 2.2 (Getz). Aside from this, a new version 2.3 was released with a new taxonomy system, pretty URLs, update notifications and tagging.

2008 – Happy Cog launched a new version 2.5 (Brecker) with the latest administration user interface design, and launched the shortcode API and dashboard widget system. Version 2.6 (Tyner) was developed on 2.5 and launched new features including Press This and Post Revisions. A study was carried out on 2.5 which led to the introduction of the Crazyhorse, and ultimately the launch of Version 2.7 which came with Inline Documentation, bulk management, a new API, comment replies/paging/threading, sticky posts, inbuilt plugin installation and automatic upgrading. In addition, Version 2.7 also redesigned the admin user interface to enhance usability and make the administration tools more customizable.

2009 – An enhanced API, widget UI, and inbuilt theme installer were introduced in a new Version 2.8 (Baker). Immediately after, a new Version 2.9 (Carmen) was introduced with Embed support, bulk plugin updating, a Trash/Undo feature, and image editing.

2010 – Version 3.0 (Thelonious) was an important launch, it brought along some amazing and advanced features including new API’s for custom backgrounds and custom headers, new custom menu management, made custom taxonomies easier, custom post types, came with a first default theme namely “Twenty Ten” and enabled the administration of multiple sites.

2011 – Another year came with another WordPress Version 3.1 (Gershwin) which came with the introduction of the admin bar and post format. New Version 3.2 (Reinhardt) made WP lighter and faster. Version 3.2 was updated minimum requirements to MySQL 5.0.15 and PHP 5.2.4 and came with a new default theme namely “Twenty Eleven”. The release of Version 3.3 (Sonny) made WP more friendly for newcomers with feature pointers and welcome messages.

2012 – New Version 3.4 (Green) launch introduced theme previewer and theme customizer. Version 3.5 (Elvin) launched the new default theme namely “Twenty Twelve” and the new media manager.

2013 – Version 3.6 came with a new default theme named “Twenty Thirteen” and also other features such as Post Locking, improved Autosave, scalable revisions, and inbuilt video and audio support. Version 3.7 (Basie) launched improved global support, improved search results, stronger password meter, automatic security and maintenance updates. Version 3.8 (Parker) came with another default theme “Twenty Fourteen” and new admin UI.

2014 – Version 3.9 (Smith) enhanced the media support and launched header previews and media experience. Version 4.0 (Benny) launched visual previews for inserted content and a grid view for installing plugins and media library. Version 4.1 (Dinah) came with an inbuilt theme called “Twenty Fifteen”, settings screen for language installation and distraction free writing mode.

2015 – Version 4.2 (Powell) introduced extended character support, emoji support and changed database encoding. Version 4.3 (Billie) came with formatting shortcuts in the Visual editor and inbuilt support for site icons. Version 4.4 (Clifford) came with embeddable posts, responsive images and “Twenty Sixteen” default theme.

2016 – WordPress 4.4.1 Security and Maintenance Release was introduced with all latest emoji characters. WordPress 4.4.1 fixes 52 bugs from version 4.4. Till this update all the versions were facing security issues so, WordPress 4.4.2 Security and Maintenance Release came with a security release for all previous versions and fixes 17 bugs in the previous 4.4.1 and 4.4 versions. After this Beta 1, Beta 2, Beta 3 and Beta 4 updates of WordPress Version 4.5 Release Candidate were released introducing a number of changes like the responsive preview, extra emoji support, fixing of SSL with responsive images. Then WordPress 4.5 RC2 enhance the last update with 91 new changes and Now WordPress 4.5 “Coleman” is introduced on April 12, 2016, which help streamline your workflow, whether you’re writing or building your website. This version enables you to easily link to your website.

Version 4.5.1 – 4.5.1 is a maintenance release of WordPress 4.5 Coleman version. The released fixed 12 bugs available in the 4.5 version. Some of these bugs included an Imagick bug that could break media uploads, a singular class problem that broke sites built using Twenty Eleven theme, and the visual editor and Chrome versions incompatibility.

Version 4.5.2 – Just like 4.5.1, 4.5.2 is a security release of WordPress 4.5. It basically fixes security threats present in the primary version. WordPress version 4.5 and 4.5.1 were affected by certain vulnerability through third party library WordPress employs for uploading files and Plupload. Versions from 4.2 to 4.5.1 have security threats from the third party library used for media uploads and MediaElement.js crafted URIs.

Version 4.5.3 – WordPress 4.5.3 is a security and maintenance update that fixes all security issues including two different XSS problems through attachments, revision history information disclosures, oEmbed denial service and more. In addition, this release fixes 17 bugs from 4.5 and 4.5.2 versions in total.

Version 4.6 – The first Beta version of 4.6 was released on June 30, 2016 followed by, Beta 2, Beta 3 and Beta 4 versions on July 6, 2016, July 13, 2016, and July 20, 2016 respectively. WordPress 4.6 RC2 was released on August 11, 2016 with 30 changes in total immediately followed by WordPress 4.6 Pepper with streamlined updates, Native fonts, Editor improvements and more.

Version 4.7 – WordPress 4.7 version is set to be released on December 6, 2016

Why do you need to keep your website up-to-date?
WordPress is an ever-growing CMS which keeps releasing new versions every now and then. With every new update, the same question pops up whether you should update your WordPress website to the latest version or not. Well, there are various reasons to update your WordPress website to the latest version.

Let’s see why you should keep your site up-to-date and pros and cons of upgrading your site to the latest version.

1. Enhanced Security
18-04_wordpress_security
As a matter of fact, WordPress has become the target of millions of hackers, thanks to its ever-growing popularity. A content management that powers more than 24.7% of the websites on the internet will certainly drive unignored attention of many users who probably want to insert malicious script to your website, or hack a site. Therefore, WordPress security is certainly one of the most reasons why you need to keep your site up-to-date with the latest versions and updates.
However, when a new version is released, it comes with improved security and advanced features that the previous versions were lacking. This not only applies to the core software of WordPress but also to the most popular and widely used plugins and themes. In fact, security and features are the two most important things that are spotted and dealt rapidly to ensure safety and highest security for the WordPress users.

2. Better Performance
Updates are not only for security. They are also released to offer better performance along with enhancing the performance of the existing themes and plugins. As an instance, WordPress 4.4 included responsive images and embeddable posts to help webmaster make the site’s images responsive. Also, WordPress 4.1 came with enhancements to complicated queries to enhance the performance of the websites.
So updating your WordPress website with the latest update helps you improve the performance of your website along with plugins and themes.

3. Speed
speed-up-wordpress
Today, speed is considered to be one of the most important factors that determine a site’s rank in the search engines. Moreover, web users are becoming more and more impatient and goal oriented with the passage of every day, thanks to thousands of options available at fingertips. Therefore, if your website does not load within 3-5 seconds, you may lose a majority of your potential customers.
However, maintaining and updating your site can help you overcome this issue since every new WordPress version update brings along various performance enhancements that make WP more efficient and run faster.
Speed is indeed a major factor in the search engine optimization, you should keep your site up-to-date to ensure faster speed possible for your site.

4. Eliminate Bugs
There are times when minor bugs slip through the cracks and lead to major problems. Eliminating any minor or major bugs from the previous versions is another popular reason for minor WP version releases especially the ones with X.X.X.
As an instance, the latest release of WordPress 4.2.3 fixed 20 bugs from its previous version.

5. Compatibility
Compatibility is yet another reason that encourages webmasters to update their sites with the latest release. With the release of newest versions of the core WordPress as well as the plugins and themes, some themes and plugins become incompatible with the older versions of the WordPress and vice versa.
In fact, often theme and plugin developers synchronize their updates with the latest update of the WordPress to ensure improvements and features are being incorporated into the plugins and themes.

6. Amazing New Features
Getting new features for your website with the release of new updates is quite obvious. Oftentimes, new versions are released to offer new features to the WordPress users. As an instance, Version 3.9 enhanced the media support and launched header previews and media experience and Version 4.3 came with formatting shortcuts in the Visual editor and inbuilt support for site icons.
So if you are still running your WordPress on an older version, your experience may differ hugely with the one who is using the latest version of the WordPress. Moreover, running your site on an older version narrows down your support options since WordPress community and forums stop discussing any features or bugs faced in the older WordPress versions.

Conclusion:
Keeping your WP site up-to-date is a crucial part of maintaining any WordPress website. This will make certain that your website performs effectively and more importantly, it is free from any bugs and security breaches. Aside, updates are the best ways to keep security threats at bay while enjoying new and amazing features.