Why would they put it on test and not push it live?
They push a lot of stuff on Test, to see if it works before going to live.
True. Nothing like this though. There's no testing required. Heirloom has been around for many years.
In EQ? No it has not (unless 2-3 years qualifies as 'many' to you). You act like you can do anything you want with an antique codebase that half the staff isn't totally familiar with. Standard Code Rant applies here. Heirloom flag was added to EQ2 (the EQ with the more modern codebase) in 2009, when was it added to EQ1?
You put it on Test to see if anything strange happens (like, oh I dunno, items becoming dupeable, as has happened before with "no testing required" assumptions). You put it on Test, if nothing else, as a cover your ass measure ("Well, it was on Test for X weeks and that didn't come up").
This change doesn't really affect me any since I have long since stopped doing the 'same account alt' thing (too many times wanting to play the alt with the main) but I could definitely see it being useful. Like if my cleric wanted to start a rogue or bard twink, she could pass along all the visages she seems to get (when I'd rather the enchanter get those things).