Two meanings:

1. A promotional practice allegedly inadvertently created by the rock group the Grateful Dead. In the 1970s, the group allowed fans attending its gigs to tape concerts freely. The result was a large number of poor-quality recordings circulating among fans, which encouraged the fans to buy higher-quality official recordings and attend concerts. The concept became known as versioning—giving away limited, imperfect, or incomplete copies of a product (for instance, a defeatured or demo version of a game) in order to encourage sales of the complete version.

2. A licensing issue that refers to the relationship in licensed products, e.g., software, semiconductor architecture, CODECs, etc. between maintenance updating, where product bugs and defects are fixed and new-version updates that add significant new functionality. Thus for example, software might be coded “Flivver 1.0′ with an maintenance update being ‘Flivver 1.1′ and a new version ‘Flivver 2.0.’ In general the last digit (farthest right) after a decimal refers to a maintenance update, and earlier digits refer to minor or major versions (e.g., 1.2.1 to 1.2.13 are all maintenance upgrades, 1.3.1 a new version, 2.1.1 a major new version.) Versioning can present a significant definitional issue in licenses, since licensees will object to paying a new license fee for what is merely a maintenance update – a definition may therefore be required of what amount of new functionality justifies describing a technology release as a new version.