This 4.4.0.Alpha2 release might look like quite boring to end users as there apparently are no exciting new features.
Of course we made some small bugfixes. Some code looks better. Some dependencies had minor upgrades. Some small performance improvements might be experienced... in exotic situations. For details, see the changelog on JIRA.
The real reason is timing: our friends from the Infinispan team are building some really cool features which require some of these changes. Also, Alpha1 is several weeks old already so it was about time to wrap up all those minor improvements in a fresh tag.
The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
- Willie Nelson (rumored)
An easy upgrade with minimal risk: some of the minor bugfixes might be worth it. Help testing this sooner: we have some big cheeses coming :-)
We start with betas when we're mostly feature complete, and there still are some very cool features planned for the Hibernate Search 4.4 series.
Also a quite notable reason: this version is not compatible with Hibernate ORM 4.3. Several compatibility improvements where made, but we're not there yet; we hope in your forgiveness considering ORM 4.3 isn't final yet either.