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There is no Oracle requirement for the client & database libraries to be exact. For example, Instant Client 11g will connect to 10g databases.
If you have a database on the same machine as Instant Client then you need to be careful about which tools pick up which of the two sets of Oracle libraries. This is a common problem for Windows users.
Also on Windows you do need to match the Oracle libraries to those that whatever tool (e.g. cx_Oracle) was built with.