Ultima Online servers have been talked about so much over the years that nowadays most people usually shrug, roll their eyes, or point you to a private server whenever the topic comes up. Game forums around the web are usually the starting (and stopping) point for such discussions, as creaky old-timers wax on about how great the genre was prior to the MMORPG equivalent of the Endless September.
When Ultima Online's current producer writes about classic shards, however, it becomes a bit more interesting than wishful speculation. In a producer's letter dated August 13th, Calvin Crowner indicates that a classic shard is being subjected to serious internal discussions in order to determine the appropriate business model and assess all the risks. He also intimates that a definitive answer will likely be forthcoming prior to the end of the year.
Go easy on the celebrations though, as Crowner points out that it's not quite as simple as bringing back old customers. "It [a classic shard] needs to draw, along with the hype, an audience truly interested in understanding that before there were games on rails, there was a game built on skill and the thrill of a game with consequence."