With the GTK team working away on GTK 4, the GNOME team was in no mood to “rewrite the world”, according to an announcement from the GNOME release team.
With GTK 4.0 being released during the next development cycle, calling the next version of GNOME ‘4.0’ would have unfortunate/unintended implications about the platform, especially from an engagement and marketing perspective. We want to decouple GNOME from deep changes in the application development platform, so that GTK can be released more often, and provide ‘long term support’ major versions.
As a result, following GNOME 3.38 being released on Wednesday, the next version of the desktop to be released in March 2021 will be called GNOME 40. Minor releases will then increment as 40.1, 40.2, and so on.
Every six month release to GNOME will bump the major version number meaning GNOME 41 will be coming around this time next year.
As part of the development cycle the pre-releases will be as GNOME 40.Alpha, GNOME 40.Beta, and GNOME 40.RC. This is dramatically fewer development releases than currently in the GNOME land.
After nearly 10 years of 3.x releases, the minor version number is getting unwieldy.
said Emmanuele Bassi.
The new versioning scheme will only apply to GNOME itself. Libraries and applications that are outside the core set are free to do as they please.