Next time you sign in to your Windows Live Hotmail account, you could be welcomed by the Wave 4 release of Microsoft’s free email service. Mike Schackwitz, program manager, Windows Live Hotmail team, confirmed officially that the Redmond company had started rolling out Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4
to customers around the world. Now, as it was the case with all Hotmail upgrades and updates, the new version of the service is introduced gradually to people worldwide, rather than all at once. However, some customers might get to use Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4 as early as today, June 15th, 2010.
“You may start seeing the new features in you inbox as early as today, features like the new Sweep menu, the freshly integrated Office Web Apps, huge new attachment limits up to 10 GB using SkyDrive, and the ability to create and send photo albums right from Hotmail. If you don’t see these features today, please hold on just a little while longer – everybody will be upgraded this summer,” Schackwitz stated
In a sense, Microsoft is not done with Windows Live Wave 4. The service that ships to an audience of almost 400 million people worldwide is rolled out gradually precisely to offer the company the chance to identify any bugs that might have managed to get past the final stage of development. Hotmail is being delivered to end users through hundreds of server clusters, and Schackwitz noted that the software giant started by upgrading a single server.
We “wait to make sure that it’s running smoothly and that we didn’t miss anything during testing, and then we continue on to the next cluster. If we find a bug, we’ll fix it before continuing further, and give that fix to everybody who has been upgraded so far. That way, we release the highest quality code as we proceed, and we can minimize downtime for everybody. Accounts are assigned to clusters to best balance our total account load, not by country or by tenure of the account, so each account is as likely as the next to be upgraded. Given this, we can’t move any individual accounts up or down the migration line,” he added.
While some users will have to wait a tad longer for Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4 than others, they can also find themselves in the situation where new Wave 4 features will still not be available even after the upgrade is complete. “Some features, like the integrated Office Web Apps and the ability to send files via SkyDrive, will initially be available only in certain countries. For example, Office integration will first roll out to Hotmail customers in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland first, and then to customers in other countries later this year,” Schackwitz added. Follow me on Twitter @MariusOiaga.