apsmith asks: "As I just heard that Microsoft is naming the next version of its database SQL Server 2000 it got me wondering - what happens to all these software products with big "version numbers" in a couple of years when 2000 seems like ancient history? Will we see more factor-of-20 leaps to Office 65535, Windows 1048575, etc? Merely modifying the fourth digit of the version number seems too insignificant to make upgrading seem worth the hassle - does Windows 2008 catch your eye any differently than Windows 2005?
It's not just Microsoft products that seem to have written themselves into a corner with high version numbers, though they are probably the worst. But even Emacs is up to version 20. Sun pushed Solaris from 2.6 to 7. RedHat at 6.1 is somehow way beyond the Linux kernel. At the other extreme is the model that Donald Knuth took for TeX, with the version numbers slowly approaching Pi (the latest teTeX distribution has TeX version 3.14159) but TeX hasn't changed much in the last 10 years either, so a lot of extra pieces have evolved around it to keep it functional.
In the real non-hyped world it seems any version number over 5 or 6 implies it's about time to switch to a new product or start over from scratch. There are countless examples - from recent history think of libc6 -> glibc2 (a bit of a mess there), HTML 5 -> XHTML, or perhaps even Netscape 5 -> Mozilla. Or is that just a geek's view of the universe? How should we be numbering our products these days? And what is Microsoft going to do after 2000? "