MySQL is evolving quite rapidly and we want to share new developments with other MySQL users. We try to produce a new release whenever we have new and useful features that others also seem to have a need for.
We also try to help users who request features that are easy to implement. We take note of what our licensed users want, and we especially take note of what our support customers want and try to help them in this regard.
No one is required to download a new release. The Release Notes help you determine whether the new release has something you really want.
We use the following policy when updating MySQL:
Enterprise Server releases are meant to appear every 18 months, supplemented by quarterly service packs and monthly rapid updates. Community Server releases are meant to appear 2 to 3 times per year.
Releases are issued within each series. For each release, the last number in the version is one more than the previous release within the same series.
Binary distributions for some platforms are made by us for major releases. Other people may make binary distributions for other systems, but probably less frequently.
We make fixes available as soon as we have identified and corrected small or noncritical but annoying bugs. The fixes are available in source form immediately from our public Bazaar repositories, and are included in the next release.
If by any chance a security vulnerability or critical bug is found in a release, our policy is to fix it in a new release as soon as possible. (We would like other companies to do this, too!)