Segregated Witness, Bitcoin Core’s innovative scaling solution, is expected to be released on November 15, in Bitcoin Core’s 0.13.1 release.
Bitcoin Core developer Pieter Wuille made the announcement in the Bitcoin-dev mailing list, in which he stated that BIP 141, or the SegWit soft fork proposal, could be activated on the 15th of November if the 95% hashpower validation threshold is reached.
“Following the BIP9 recommendation to set the versionbits start time a month in the future and discussion in the last IRC meeting, I propose we set BIP 141's start time to November 15, 2016, 0:00 UTC (unix time 1479168000).”
Segregated witness over hard forks
Most Bitcoin experts describe Segregated Witness as a more cautious and safer alternative to hard forks. Bitcoin Core developer Luke Jr for instance, goes as far as depicting a hard fork as an initiative to create a new altcoin.
“A softfork is additional rules added to the protocol. A hardfork is an altcoin that everyone switches to (typically inheriting funds held on the current system),” states Jr.
Upon the flawless execution of the DAO hard fork, the Ethereum team ran into an unexpected series of economical and political issues within the network and the community, which effectively separated Ethereum into two: main chain and Ethereum Classic.
As Jr explains, hard forks can lead to difficult technical and economical situations to be dealt with by developers and users of a digital currency.
Thus, a proper scaling solution like the Segregated Witness is a more efficient method of optimizing the Bitcoin blocksize, as it decreases the possibility of a forked chain and the emergence of serious security and economical issues that will most likely require a followup hard fork.
Effect on the Bitcoin network
Once activated and released, Segregated Witness will significantly decrease transactional data by removing a set of data called Witness out of the traditional structure of a transaction. It is presumed to reduce the probability of blocks reaching their maximum capacity.
Bitcoin Core developer Wladimir J. van der Laan has already added SegWit activation rules called v0.13.1rc1, to ensure that the miners and node operators are aware of the activation process of the soft fork proposal.