Jester over at Jester's Trek (aka Ripard Teg) posted a discussion over the future of Establishments and how he feels they are not coming out this winter.
The winter expansion is not going to include Establishments. Whatever idea CCP had for this feature isn't even close to ready. They tried, and failed, to put something together that EVE's players couldn't break in 30 seconds flat. When the Establishments team tests four or five toons walking around together in one room, their test machines catch fire. It isn't ready, it isn't going to be ready, and CCP is in panic mode.I don't necessarily agree with all his points in his post, but overall I agree that the third paragraph I quoted encompasses the majority of the winter expansion's features, and I don't think Establishments are going to be included either.
That's why we haven't seen so much as concept art for what the Establishments will look like this year. That's why they're suddenly so open to a 180 degree change in direction.
The winter expansion will include the three remaining racial CQs, whatever mini-features we've been seeing that CCP can scrape together in time for late December (new cynos, time dilation, super cap nerfs, ship spinning, logi warp speed, new font, Dram nerf, a few other rebalances hastily thrown together), and that's... pretty much it. This expansion won't even get a name, other than an Incarna version number.
Where Jester and I differ in opinion in a significant manner is that I think there will be one (or maybe two depending on resource allocation) more major feature in this expansion and I think it will get a new name because CCP wants to move past the Summer of Incarna Rage.
The reason I think there will be at least one more major feature is that there is about 2-3 sprints of development left between now and a mid December release. A focused multi-team effort could produce something in that time with enough motivation and overtime. They know they don't need something the scale of wormholes or tech III ships, but even something as simple as producing the contest winning ships from last winter would be considered a huge win (and that's sad in a way).
CCP knows they need to turn around the malaise in the community that is impacting the long term players who hold Eve together. New fonts, cyno effects, time dilation, and ship balancing are not the answer; they are merely things CCP should have been doing all along.
So prepare for the counteroffensive. We've seen their opening shots this past couple week in the dev blogs, maybe today we see the major push of their campaign.