There are multiple answers. First off, there is not much Turbine can do. The game is much larger now than it was then -- the base download is now something like 17.8 gig. Then the patch (now with Helm's Deep) is another 5-10 gig. Remember? The last Boxed edition "Mines of Moria" (and the "Mithril Edition") was two DVD's in size, so it still took "Hours and Hours" to install the base game. So the basic size of the game is directly effected by the speed of your Internet Connection. The difference between someone on a 2gig DSL line is dramatically slower than someone on a 20gig Cable modem... AND keep in mind that 17.8 is Gig-a-bytes and that 20 is Gig-a-bits; nominally a factor of 10 difference between bits and bytes!
Originally Posted by Cunir
As for the "start downloading and then play:" Yes, if you look at lotro.com's download page you will see two "new" (as of about September) "Play Instantly" options.
These both (PC and Mac) use HappyCloud as the download mechanism. However, they still take a couple of hours to download the "3 starter areas" before they let you begin playing while they download "the rest." See: http://lotro-wiki.com/index.php/Mac_Client for more info.
Bill Magill - Mac Player - Old Timers Guild- Gladden:
Valamar: Dwarf Hunter - Level 105
Valdicta: Dwarf Rune-keeper - Level 105
Valanne: Beorning - Level 91