I recently had to fix a bug in NM 0.3 in RHEL4. Yes, old versions were pretty bad; but that's always the case with release-early/release-often OSS software. If you don't get it out there and get people using & testing it, it doesn't get better.
Was having that discussion the other day with somebody too... With Mac OS X for example, you might actually be able to create new software that doesn't need to go through a few iterations before it's actually useful to most people, becuase there isn't as much variation in hardware or OS.
But with Linux, so many people use it in so many configurations, and with so much hardware (and so many drivers of differing quality), that if you don't release stuff early and get people testing it, you'll just go through the same pain whenever you release it later.