I have written in the past about the so-called formal introduction of FamilySearch Family Tree since it has been postponed a number of times. But on 5 March 2013, the website finally showed up as a permanent link on the startup page of FamilySearch.org. The introduction was done without much prior warning or promotion and was likely noticed by only a comparatively small handful of users. Although there were several blog posts on the subject touting mainly the fact that the program was now open to both members and those are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is not exactly the case, since, in effect the program has been open to those outside the membership of the Church from the program's introduction.
I do wonder if it is now easier for those with a FamilySearch account to gain complete access to the program? So far, I haven't talked to anyone who has tried to sign in after the change. The link has gone from from hiding, to putting it on the startup page permanently for all to see.
When you are immersed in the online genealogical community, you have a tendency to judge things by the reaction of that community. But in this case, the whole issue will be lost on the vast majority outside the genealogical community, even of those who are members of the Church. I'm sorry if I sound a little cynical, but I have been teaching classes for the past few weeks specifically on FamilySearch Family Tree and except for the volunteers at the Mesa FamilySearch Library, hardly any of those attending my classes have the slightest acquaintanceship with FamilySearch FamilyTree. In one recent class, there were 124 people and after I asked, only three of them were familiar with New.FamilySearch.org and these were actively participating genealogists. I could only assume from the reaction of the class to my inquiry about New.FamilySearch.org, that my introduction to FamilySearch Family Tree was the very first time most of them had even heard of the program.
In fact, when I teach about FamilySearch.org in general, most of the people attending my classes are abundantly surprised to find out that there are Historical Record Collections on the website and they are usually even less familiar with the other resources such as the Research Wiki and the Video instructional material.
FamilySearch does a stellar and fantastic job of doing what it does both online and off line, but the demographics of the genealogical community work against a low key, word-of-mouth approach to promoting a website. With a few exceptions, many of the people who are involved in genealogy, some in a significant way, do not communicate with other genealogists. On the other hand, the level of awareness of Ancestry.com is a complete contrast to the lack of visibility of FamilySearch.org. This is due primarily to the TV advertising and saturated website advertising of Ancestry.com. This discrepancy in the visibility of the two programs occurs despite the fact that the resources on FamilySearch.org are at least as valuable for research and possibly more valuable than those on Ancestry.com depending on where and when you are doing your research.