And to add - most likely in a beta release. (inbetween each alpha and each beta there will be testnets)
Additionally when testing shows testsafecoin and the network are in the release candidate stages the testsafecoin will continue and be the real safecoin (most likely situation, but not certain)
Yes this is the most likely and has been suggested as the way its going.
The reason why there is not an update stating this is because it is uncertain and to make a definite announcement is fraught with hidden dangers. The dev team don't know if during the beta tests with testsafecoin that a particular bug that they might have been chasing (and one that would prevent final release) requires the network to be reset when fixed.
So as good manners they do the sensible thing and suggest the path they wish to take without stating it as the definite path.
This is an interesting question.
For the network to exist it seems that you only need a small number of nodes (around 8-16)
For the network to have reasonable security against attacks, well that is unknown at this time and testing will reveal the tipping point. Some of the current development impacts on this in a large way and the results of the upcoming tests may give us a good understanding of the actual number needed.
That is a reasonable analysis of where we are at the moment. But with data chains and other development at the moment may make this much better in required numbers.
This current (security & more) development was always going happen, just that the attacks on the last testnets meant that the dev team decided to implement a certain amount of them before releasing any more testnets.
I'd say with the current situation we need a minimum of 10,000 nodes and maybe 50,000
With the current round of development finished maybe 5,000 to 20,000 nodes.
I'd also say that we need to have the knowledge that the final release candidates may still need a network reset if an attack is successful before the network is large enough to resist such an attack.
Also we know that Maidsafe will be starting the networks with a set of nodes that they run up into a network before releasing that network. This way we can have a good number of nodes running before announcing it. This should assist in resisting attacks that occur from the start.