Drupal has been successfully around for about 17 years now because of its ability to accept and integrate colossal changes with every upgrade for it to be able to catch up with the current technology needs. Drupal’s culture of breaking backward compatibility between version upgrades also helped them to innovate and focus better on the forward-looking changes.
However, it not only took users a lot of time to adjust with the new version updates but users also had to wait for a long time for fixes, updates and upgrades. This not just took a toll on the users but also on the core contributors as well since there would be very long release cycles, expensive and complex upgrade path and less incentives to them because of the lengthy release cycles.
To address all these issues, the Drupal core team decided to evolve their philosophy from the release of Drupal 8. Instead of big and long releases, their goal now is to continuously innovate and be able to make small but effective and frequent updates and upgrades. This will make the learning curve smoother, faster and easier to absorb. It also means API additions, new features, easy upgrade paths would be a part of the frequent Drupal version releases! Isn’t that just awesome?! The semantic versioning scheme would typically look like – major.minor.patch. For example, Drupal 8.1.0. Also, minor releases with new features and functionalities are scheduled to come out twice a year for predictability. Modules, themes and distributions will also be provided with smooth upgrades from one minor release to the other. So upgrading from say Drupal 8.1 to 8.2 will be as simple as updating for a security release or bug fix.