This issue is a little more complicated than it would appear at first. The technology limitation is a bit of a misnomer. We have two things we're really talking about.
First, if you allow every English speaking person, regardless of location, to play on every single English speaking server -- then this is the problem that it creates: You patch the US servers first, and then 8 hours later, patch the UK servers. What happens to the person running v1.0 in the UK that logs into a server running v2.0? There's some ways to bypass this, but it is an issue. So it's a trade-off.
If we wanted to have separate patching schedules, which is theoretically possible, we could segregate UK servers from US servers and your account is only able to access one.. but most people don't want that and it doesn't adhere to our Vision of the community.
That being said, we really want to make sure that the impact of patching or downtime is as minimal to as many people as possible, and we're going to work toward that.
Localized Servers on seperate patching schedules isn't as easy as it sounds, and it complicates the issue of patching and server execs by a factor that adds in many more things that can go wrong.
There's a customer support issue here, load to Tech Support, Operations overhead.. and the increased complication of adding all of these things together that allows for many more potential fault points -- places that things can go wrong.
All in all, please be assured that it is something of which we are ever aware and we'll do what we can to minimize the effect on all international players. -April 2005
Also, after my tenure as Game Operations Manager at SOE, I have been working on a few new tricks to minimize downtime across the board. I hate long patch windows as much as the players do. Rest assured, one of my main focuses going forward is reducing the downtime and refining the patching process. -April 2005