For Phillipe and myself the answer is pretty clear and straight forward:
There is no minor upgrade anymore since every (patch set) release is a full release and since new parameters, parameter values, features and whatever appears even in patch sets.
But the following discussion on Twitter with comments from all sides made me think about why people would honestly declare going for instance from 220.127.116.11 to 18.104.22.168 as a minor upgrade whereas going to 22.214.171.124 is seen as a major upgrade?
Let me summarize why I completely disagree – and actually Dom Giles nailed it:
- Since Oracle Database 126.96.36.199 we deliver patch sets as a full release
- A patch set can contain not only new parameters or parameter values but may occasionally also contain new features (typical examples in Oracle 188.8.131.52 are the new value for optimizer_dynamic_sampling=11 or the DBMS_REDACT package)
- Therefore you will have to do exactly the same amount of testing, regardless of going to Oracle Database 184.108.40.206 vs Oracle Database 220.127.116.11 – it is ZERO difference in the tests, the time, the effort, the manpower …
You don’t believe me? Then please check MOS Note:1962125.1 (Oracle Database – Overview of Database Patch Delivery Methods). Scroll down a bit to Testing Recommendations By Patch Type and see the rightmost column of this table headlined “Patch Set Release”:
I hope this clarifies it all.
There is no “minor” patch set upgrade anymore. Even though I would love to tell you that going from 18.104.22.168 to 22.214.171.124 is just a minor hop it will require exactly the same testing and evaluation work then going to Oracle Database 126.96.36.199.
But going to Oracle Database 188.8.131.52 will mean that you are under Premier Support until end of June 2018 – whereas Free Extended Support for Oracle Database 184.108.40.206 will end in May 2017.