Gary Illyes, webmaster trends analyst at Google, has just announced that they are aiming to launch the new Real-Time Penguin algorithm this quarter but indicated it was weeks, rather than months away.
@mrjamiedodd I'll go with weeks. We're aiming for launching penguin this quarter, but we don't have a more precise timeframe.— Gary Illyes (@methode) January 19, 2016
This is not the first time that Google has mentioned a time-frame for Penguin to be released, with an initial release date given as before the end of 2015. In the New Year (5th January 2016) Gary Illyes then gave some further information saying that "the Penguins are getting closer to freedom, but we don't have a specific date yet," indicating that they cannot release something that hasn't been tested extensively.
The last official update for Penguin was back on the 17th October 2014, with version 3.0. There were also some unconfirmed updates of Penguin 3.1 later in December 2014, but this cannot be confirmed. This means that webmasters have waited some 15 months for this to happen.
For a business that relies on its website for income, and who may have taken part in some spammy link building, whether by themselves or by a rogue cheap SEO service, the impact of any penalty is severe. Despite cleaning up any bad links shortly after being hit with a penalty, they would have had to wait 15 months for any chance of a recovery, and possibly longer. The move to a Real-time version of the Penguin algorithm so this situation does not happen again is long overdue.