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ZCash First Hard Fork: Overwinter Upgrade Introduces Democratic Development

Privacy-focused cryptocurrency Zcash successfully activated its first and long-awaited hard fork on June 26. Dubbed Overwinter, the network upgrade went live at block 347,500, which was mined on Tuesday around 1:37 GMT.

The new upgrade marks the first Zcash cryptocurrency implementation of a two-tiered governance model for future protocol upgrades. According to the ZCash blog, the first tier is an opt-in upgrade which means that all nodes on the network have the option to upgrade their node with the latest protocol rules.

“The intent of the opt-in upgrade is to remove chaos introduced by other governance models where users are forced down a certain path, potentially without their knowledge or consent.” ZCash blog writes.

The second tier is advocacy and education; this means that Node operations should be able to make a well-informed decision, within a reasonable amount of time.

The new upgrade introduces several performance improvements to the Zcash network. Notably, “transaction expiry,” which allows the mempool to automatically cancel ZEC transactions that have not been added to a block within a predetermined period of 20 blocks (~50 minutes). Overwinter prepares the Zcash protocol for future hard forks, including the significant Sapling upgrade, which is slated to go live in October 2018.

Zcash Developers team say that ‘overwinter” will increase transaction efficiency and scalability, particularly for transactions made from privacy-enhancing “shielded addresses.”

ZEC released a proposed two-year roadmap on the wake of Overwinters activation. It involves devoting resources to both engineering and marketing research intended to integrate a “privacy-by-default” approach into the ZEC protocol.

Overwinter upgrade will not support legacy nodes in the near future. However, this will not have any effect on funds and private keys created by legacy nodes, but users are advised to update to the new client as soon as possible. The new upgrade marks a new age for Zcash digital currency and its underlying technology.  

The new upgrade also presented replay protection feature for the future upgrades, ensuring that dissidents can continue to use the legacy network without fear of replay attacks. Replay protection ensures users can continue to use their legacy network without fear of the replay attacks. Notably, the deficiency of replay protection was a contentious issue in the controversy surrounding SegWit2x (or btc1).  Which was slated to be activated last year November but ultimately failed to go live after its chief backers withdrew support for the initiative.

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