After a month, Hotmail continues rollout (#NoHotmailYet)

hotmailwave4Mike Shackwitz posted another update on the rollout of Hotmail Wave 4 today on Inside Windows Live, reporting that “we’re right on track with our release plan”.  Some 50 million accounts on “several different clusters” have already been upgraded, which is about “13-14%” of the reported 360 million Hotmail users as noted by one of the comments in the blog post.

In his last post, Shackwitz offered up a number of reasons why the rollout was taking more time than many of us had hoped, including making behind the scenes changes to “monitor the site or make the rollout itself go more smoothly”.  This time, he came up with another reason why “this particular release can only move so fast”:

In order to turn on the new features in Hotmail – features like conversation threads, QuickViews, and Filters – we need to build new indexes in the storage system for your email. These new indexes allow Hotmail to instantly show you mail from your contacts, or show you messages that contain photos, or let you organize your email by conversation.

When the indexing process is complete, we’ll be turning on the new Hotmail for all our users. We’ll continue to keep you posted on the progress right here on Inside Windows Live.

Thanks again for your patience and support – we’re getting very close now, and it’s very exciting.

While we never expected for a job this big to be completed overnight, we can’t help but think that there ought to be a better way to let the early adopters, the ones who really want to get their hands on the latest bits, to be rewarded.  As it is, as we can see from the comments here and on Inside Windows Live, there’s a certain subset of users that are disappointed, frustrated, and vocal about not being able to get at the new bits. 

In the “old days”, these people were on managed betas, or were Windows Live Butterflys.  We were close enough to those programs to know that they were sometimes difficult to manage, and didn’t provide enough meaningful feedback to make them worthwhile data-gathering beta tests.

What they did do, however, was open up a community of Windows Live early adopters, offering them a chance to get early access and nurturing some Windows Live ambassadors in the process.  We try to keep that spirit going here at LiveSide, but could Microsoft do more to appease and reward early adopters?

How do you think the Hotmail rollout is being handled?  Should we just sit back and wait (and like Shackwitz says – “we’re getting very close”), or are you frustrated?  Should there be some kind of early adopter program?  How would you handle it differently?

(You can Tweet #NewHotmailHere or #NoHotmailYet to @liveside – keep us posted!)