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The block size increase proposal currently under discussion would require all clients that process transactions to upgrade.

Otherwise, pre 0.11 clients would reject these larger blocks, leading to a possible double-spend attack against these merchants after Mar 1, 2016.

Will the Bitcoin developers use the alert system to warn these nodes to upgrade?

5

Yes, according to Gavin Andresen via Reddit.

Even if they didn't to do so, Bitcoin Core already has two other mechanisms which will produce automated alerts as the hard fork approaches: one which will take effect before the hard fork occurs, and one after (as per BIP-50).

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