Google will make its Google Wave real-time collaboration platform available to 100,000 more people beginning tomorrow in what the company is calling an "extended preview."
As I noted over the weekend, Wave has been tested internally by thousands of Googlers and externally by thousands of developers. These folks have been poking and prodding it to flesh out the soft spots in the code.
Lars Rasmussen in a blog post today previewed the extended preview, noting the 100,000 new invites will go to:
- Developers who have been active in the developer preview we started back in June.
- The first users who signed up and offered to give feedback on wave.google.com.
- Select customers of Google Apps.
Rasmussen said Google will ask some early users to nominate people they know also to receive early invitations, noting that Google Wave is more useful if your friends, family and colleagues have it too. If this catches on, Google will invite "many more" to try out Google Wave. ReadWriteWeb has more on the invitation process here.
This makes sense. I signed up to test Wave back in June, just two weeks after Google launched Wave at I/O, so I hope to get an invite. But I need to have people to use it with, or the invite is moot. Wave only works when you have several people on it, or else it's just instant messaging with file-sharing.
It's also not the way people are used to communicating and collaborating, so most people will need to have their hands held to varying degrees.
Ramussen added this caveat and clarification about what he means by "preview":
"Some of you have asked what we mean by preview. This just means that Google Wave isn't quite ready for prime time. Not yet, anyway. Since first unveiling the project back in May, we've focused almost exclusively on scalability, stability, speed and usability. Yet, you will still experience the occasional downtime, a crash every now and then, part of the system being a bit sluggish and some of the user interface being, well, quirky."
Very true. Wave Creators Lars and Jens Rasmussen provided a demo for myself and other journalists back in July and the platform stalled quite a bit, freezing my browser, particularly when I tried to access photos or files.
Rasmussen also offered a teaser, noting that he and his team have yet to implement certain key features.
"For example, you can't yet remove a participant from a wave or define groups of users, draft mode is still missing and you can't configure the permissions of users on a wave. We'll be rolling out these and other features as soon as they are ready -- over the next few months."
Rasmussen also praised the the thousands of developers who have patiently taken part in our ongoing developer preview. BT's Ribbit team, for example, has created some Wave gadgets, which I expect to see in action tomorrow.
Net-net, tomorrow's launch is big for Google in the sense that it has to be able to support the glut of new Wave users with its infrastructure. The users also have to have a comfortable waving experience, or the beta build won't blossom.
Google also took another major step in getting Wave ready for broader adoption Sept. 22 when it launched Google Chrome Frame, an open-source plug-in that enables Chrome's Webkit rendering engine to run in Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
I will be very interested to see how many users bother to install Chrome Frame; instructions for installing it to use Wave are here.
I'm rooting for Wave, because I think this is where the many-to-many collaboration model needs to go -- into real-time for the future.