I very much doubt they will let people select their server to start with, otherwise they will have very unbalanced server populations.
But I do hope that getting into the same server as a friend is much easier.
Edited, Apr 7th 2010 5:55am by Diakar
The rest of the world has found ways around this. In this day and age, not allowing players to choose a server is basically game suicide. It is a completely different gaming landscape than when FFXI launched. Stupid ideas formulated in Japanese boardrooms (I.e. Worldpass) is just not going to fly stateside.
A few examples of strategies that other games have employed recently: Listing a "recommended" server for those with no preferenceCreating a "help me choose a server" option that sways people towards a certain serverOffering short-term xp bonuses for joining low-pop serversOffering free transfers from high to low pop servers
Obviously the specific strategy has to be tailored to the game and fit into the business model. However, a system that prevents, or puts substantial obstacles in the way of, two people who want to play together, will quickly equate to failure, putting a sour taste into people's mouths before they even enter the game world.