Awesome! I'm glad you agree with me. I thought of it because I've seen it implemented in other places around the web and it works beautifully. Opera Software has been doing it for a while now and it worked out really well.
I understand that you can hit the Downloads button on the page, but obviously that's no good in terms of notification... I mean, that requires users to click there every once in a while, unless they use a web watcher app like Website Watcher. I've started using it recently and while I like it I think the author could seriously make MAJOR, MAJOR improvements in the interface and the preferences.. all that stuff is so incredibly much and complicated, and this is a rather experienced software saying that... I mean, I get a headache trying to figure out what all those settings mean in Website Watcher! And I'm the type of person who likes to know what a program I'm using can do, what it's capable of. Therefore, the first thing I always do when installing a new piece of software is to go through its preferences. You can imagine what surprise I ran into when doing that with WW...
Sorry for getting OT here. Anyway, I think it's the best way to do it, and requires so little effort! I mean, someone could be asking for a an update newsletter service from the site or something.. what for? It would require some effort because it would have to be integrated into the site. This, on the other hand, couldn't be any simpler. I also see other benefits.. like, as you mentioned, these dedicated threads could also serve as changelogs as its usually done with that type of thread. You can announce both final and beta version in there, using modifiers like * = bug fixed, + = new feature, - = feature removed and whatever you think is necessary. It would be a very clean way of keeping the entire changelog of a particular program in one way and publicly, universally accessible at the same time.
I say, let's do it!