Facebook Begins to Slowly Invite More Users to Upgrade Facebook Messages

If you’re waiting for your @facebook.com email address, don’t hold your breath.

The upgraded Facebook Messages will be offered to only a “majority” of the more than 500 million Facebook users over the next two months. The remainder of Facebook users will have to wait even longer.

In the Silicon Valley Mercury News, Andrew Bosworth, who leads development of the new Facebook Messages, said “[t]he reason we’re taking our time with it is we’re not starting from scratch. We’re starting from being one of the top messaging systems on the Internet. This is a new product with 500 million existing users.”

The upgraded Facebook Messages was announced in November 2010. Facebook has since been providing relatively few people access to the new product, with these initial users able to “invite” their friends to upgrade to Facebook Messages. According the Silicon Valley Mercury News, Facebook has been moving existing Facebook messages over to the new service slowly over the past two months, and Facebook has been checking every character within every message, scanning for discrepancies. Facebook has also assigned an engineer to manually check every error it discovers.

The upgraded Facebook Messages treats every communication between users on Facebook as part of an ongoing conversation that began with their first interaction on Facebook – a history that can, in some cases, date back several years.

“We have billions of messages in the existing system that we have to move over to the new system,” Bosworth said. “These are intensely meaningful, personal messages that people expect to have access to, and we have to do this with some care.”

Facebook notes in the Mercury News that it is working on offering Facebook Messages to more users, including users outside of the United States. Facebook also admits the upgrades moved a little slow over the holidays, which is when it appears Facebook Messages first launched to a select group of users. According to a Facebook spokeswoman, the team is now “really starting to move on the invites.”