Google Wave is ready for its next step: a more thorough test of its scalability and stability as more than 100,000 new users crowd onto the service.
As promised, Google plans to open Google Wave beyond an extremely limited preview on Wednesday, granting access to users who have signed up in hopes of getting a chance to try the service. Google received more than 1 million requests to participate in the preview, said Lars Rasmussen, engineering manager for Google Wave, and while it won't be able to accommodate all those requests on Wednesday it is at least ready to begin the next phase of the project.
Google Wave is an attempt to re-engineer Internet communication, blending elements of e-mail, instant messaging, social networking, and workplace collaboration software into a single Web application. It was first unveiled at Google I/O in May before Web developers who were a bit dazzled by the possible uses of the technology.
At present, however, Google Wave is one big bug bash, perhaps half a year away from launching as a stable product. Google engineers have solved many of the more persistent bugs that were hampering the product a few months ago, but there is still a long way to go and Wave should not be considered anything but a "preview," Rasmussen said. Still, that's better than "developer preview," the status previously attached to Wave that implied only hardcore techies should venture within.
In addition to the developers and waiting list, Google also plans to open Wave up to a limited number of Google Apps enterprise customers for testing, Rasmussen said. A few companies, such as SAP and Salesforce.com, have already started playing around with the technology but Google is seeking feedback from other organizations on how Wave might work within their environment.