update: republishing with some notes from Peter Wolanin, who has been working directly on the issues that caused me dive in here in the first place. Many thanks Peter for the clarifications and corrections!
The number of critical issues holding up the release of Drupal 8 is now in the 50s. When will it be released? When it's ready. In the meantime there are some great opportunities around to start to get up to speed on what Drupal 8 is all about. Not least of which are 7 sessions at DrupalSouth in Melbourne next month.