The Wii U's mandatory day-one firmware update that adds MiiVerse, backwards compatibility, internet browsing, online play and other core features will be pre-installed on consoles as of next year, Nintendo confirmed today.
"Nintendo developers want to make sure that the very best product is available to consumers," NoA boss Reggie Fils-Aime told Gamasutra, in an effort to explain why the day-one patch was necessary for a brand new console. "That creates a dynamic where our developers are working on elements until the very last point possible. That's why the system update was required on Day One - and this is quite similar to what's happened with other consumer electronic products."
Fils-Aime suggested that new Wii U consoles will include the updated firmware out of the box in a "few months," which suggests some time in Spring 2013.
The patch currently weighs in at approximately 1GB, but Nintendo's update servers don't seem to be running at full strength yet, resulting in lengthy download times for most users. However, should you cancel it using the onscreen prompt before installation, it should download in the background.
I'm currently finalising our Wii U hardware review, which should hopefully be ready within the next 24 hours.