The statement of Core developer Wladimir van der Laan announces the release of Core version 0.13.0 in July 2016. Unexpectedly, the publication provoked turmoil among bitcoiners about SegWit implementation.

Wladimir van der Laan’s publication on the Linux Foundation website bewildered a number of readers making them believe that the 0.13.0 Core version stands for initial Segregated Witness protocol implementation. They thus decided that it means postponement of the soft-fork solution until July. In the related trend on Reddit, they hastily accused Core developers of being “nuts” and “completely out of touch with reality.”

However, as other users soon pointed out, the statement actually concerns the planned upgrade of Bitcoin Core and has little to do with SegWit as such. The soft fork is expected to be released as a minor update to the current Core version and deployed as “0.12.x” presumably on the schedule, in April 2016.

After the situation cleared up, some users expressed their surprise why “one of the biggest changes to Bitcoin ever” should be released only as a minor update. The explanations suggested that, first of all, minor optimisations are more likely to be accepted by the majority than patent forks, and secondly, “rolling major changes into a big update that may contain lots of other vital upgrades is bad form - better to present it separately and let people vote on just the major change.”

The incident may be regarded as a manifestation of confusion and anxiety within the community, as the bitcoin industry is trying to reach consensus on the most important technological problem, the methods and schedule of the block size scaling. The agreement that endorsed the SegWit solution was concluded on 21 February 2016 in Hong Kong by a part of the industry and developers’ team and brought about a split among key actors in the bitcoin ecosystem. A number of important industry players disagreed with the decision and opted for the Bitcoin Classic alternative. Among them are a major bitcoin exchange Coinbase and cryptocurrency wallet Xapo. Moreover, five American bitcoin ATM operators have switched to Bitcoin Classic, bringing into the camp the total of 29 BTMs across the country. Participants of the last Satoshi Roundtable voiced their concern about the lack of consensus among infrastructure developers and called on the opposing camps to be more cooperative.

Anna Lavinskaya