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Application owner guidance: how to determine if you are on the latest version

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If you are an application owner, especially if you are 'non-technical', determining if the applications you have been asked to keep an eye on are on the latest version isn't always straight forward. If you are worried about missing crucial updates, don't worry you are not alone. This guide lays out a clear and simple roadmap to stay on top of the lates versions and ensure you never miss an update.  

With the last version you reported (or were assigned) in hand, visit the vendor website to look for updates. If you do not have access to a version number to which you should compare, launch the application in question to see. Often, version details are available in an “about” or “settings” menu within the application.

Failing that, you can look to where the application is installed on your computer to view the program's main executable file for version details in the same way shown below (discussing how to confirm the version of a downloaded installer file).

Obtaining the most detailed version information for an application may not be straight-forward

While the website for the product should be easy to find, details on the latest available version are not always easy to discover once you are there. Some applications require you to log in to obtain the latest version details. This is often a good opportunity to opt-in to any newsletter or announcements so you can proactively stay on top of updates, even ahead of your next required check-in interval. It’s never too soon to check in on your application. Any mandated intervals or SLAs are simply guidance not to exceed a set number of weeks, but if you become aware of a reason to update sooner, it is your obligation as a product owner to do so as soon as possible.

Where to look to determine if a new version is available

You can start by searching on line. Some helpful search terms to identify the latest version available include:

  • <product name> download
  • <product name> release notes
  • <product name> latest version
  • <product name> security update

On the vendor’s website, look for a download page, as this is often where version information is called out. You may also find a release blog describing product updates. Sometimes, detailed release notes may be available in the documentation and support area of an application vendor website.

Obtain the full version number

Record a version number that is as detailed as possible. Often, smaller updates will not be easily distinguishable without a full version number, which is often more detailed than that shown in typical references to the product. A full (and most valuable) version number is often four numbers separated by decimals:

  1. The first number represents the major release number and indicates major incompatible changes or additions to the product.
  2. The second number represents the minor release number and indicates minor changes to the product or improvements to functionality.
  3. The third number represents a patch level and is used to indicate nominal changes like patches or bug fixes.
  4. The fourth number represents a build level and is typically only used in special cases when there are changes even less significant than bug fixes and patches.

To know exactly what the latest version is and if it is newer than the one you are comparing against, you must seek this full and complete version number, keeping in mind that important updates may be included at any level.

For example, as of the date of this article, WinZip’s latest version is 28, but there have been multiple versions of 28 released, so a full version number is necessary to confirm if a new version is available and in need of consideration. If one downloads the setup and hovers over the file to see its version detail, you can see the full version number is 28.0.15640.0.

You can also see this level of detail by right-clicking on the downloaded setup and choosing “properties.”

While is important to identify the full and complete version number, it may take more effort than a cursory look at the website (depending on the application). Oftentimes, the name of the setup file will include the version number, but not always the detailed version number. A dozen popular enterprise application examples are presented below as examples to illustrate the different levels of version detail you may find when looking in different places. Note that while the information presented here is current as of the date this was written, it is not intended as a version reference as it will quickly become outdated.


Website Version

Download File Name

Setup Version in Properties


Not specified



VLC media player





















Not specified

Thunderbird Setup 115.6.0.exe


23.01 (2023-06-20)


Affinity Photo




2.10.36 (2023-11-05)



Not specified



Frequently, you cannot rely on the website or the website download page to provide a detailed version number. Downloading the setup is often the best way to determine the complete version of the information you seek. As you can see from the table above, this isn’t always as straightforward as one would hope.

  • In the case of WinZip and Grammarly, no version number was mentioned on the website, and the file name was not detailed; only downloading the setup file and looking at its version information let you get to a full version number.
  • In the case of Affinity Photo, the site and file name provided what looked like specific version information, but looking at the setup file properties showed the full version number.
  • Then there are outliers like the case of Thunderbird, where the actual version is stated in the setup download file name, but the setup file version information does not match as expected.

Save yourself some effort at the next check-in

The first time you are researching version information for an application for which you have been assigned the role of application owner will be the most challenging. Once you find the right page, bookmark it in your web browser. Once you identify the best process to find the detailed version information, make a note of it. Armed with such details, subsequent check-ins should be considerably faster to perform.

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