Zcash is getting ready for its first ever hard fork. Overwinter is the name of the upgrade. Users and third-party developers like wallet providers need to be up to date with the software to be compatible with the upgrade.
Often, people confuse hard forks with the creation of new coins. And would look for airdrop announcements, or how-to guides to profit from the favorable circumstances. But that is only true in case of hard forks meant for upgrades if there are a good number of nodes maintaining the old network.
Zcash team is confident that there would be no chance of such events. The upgrade only paves the way for more hard forks. Such as the one planned later for this year, which is the Sapling network upgrade.
When is the hard fork?
The targeted day for the Overwinter hard fork 25 Jun 2018. And it might change.
With the Overwinter network upgrade, there will be an entirely new feature that makes transactions expire. And Zcash Improvement Proposal (ZIP) 203 describes the details of the feature. But according to a GitHub thread, the development team is yet to finalize how to implement this feature. Probably, the user can set one or both of transaction expiration time, and the block number after which if the transaction is still unverified, it will be rejected forever.
There are another four ZIPs, namely 143, 200, 201,202, those will be adopted into the mainnet. In those, noteworthy features are replay protection that helps future upgrades. And improving signature verification performance that increases transaction processing speeds. The current mechanism being used had been adopted from that of Bitcoin.
Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower who leaked NSA spying, prefers Zcash when it comes to privacy oriented Cryptocurrencies. And he said that Bitcoin would fail as it has lousy privacy features.
Zcash is pioneering some changes. Èthereum blockchain has already adopted its zk-snarks technology, which helps to send private transactions. And the team is researching zk-proofs to improve the network scaling.