After almost a year of beta testing, Microsoft is currently preparing the final releases of Wave 3 for Windows Live. There are two major updates that are yet to come, and we've received some information from some insiders within the company.
The first release will be an update to Windows Live Messenger. A Microsoft employee recently listed a new build number of Windows Live Messenger in their personal status message. After speaking with a company representative, they are preparing to release a QFE (Quick Fix Engineering) patch for Windows Live Messenger. At this time no exact date has been announced, I expect they will release it within the next two weeks as the Windows Live team finishes up the Wave 3 releases. The build will not contain any new features and will focus on bug fixes and Windows 7 functionality. The build number announced will be 14.0.8059.0127.
The second update will be for Windows Live Hotmail. When I interviewed Ryan Gavin and Dharmesh Mehta, Directors of Windows Live Consumer Product Management, we learned that the Windows Live Hotmail team were rolling out POP3 access after years of demand. During the first phase of the release access was only granted to a few select regions of the world, leaving millions in the dark waiting for their update. U.S. customers will start receiving access to their email via POP3 starting late next week, and all other markets should be receive the update by the end of February.
Now that we're nearing the final releases of Wave 3, it's time to move on to Wave 4. We've been told that Wave 4 has officially been launched internally. The team is right on schedule and have entered the development phase. No new features have been announced at this time. However the Live Mesh and Office Live platforms recently were pulled together and both are now apart of the Windows Live platform. So huge updates to Sky Drive, Live Mesh, and Office Live are coming. If you're a beta fanatic like Tom Warren and myself, keep an eye on your inbox as the beta should be launching sometime next month!