Apple never announced a public release date for iOS 4.2 other than "November". Rumors suggested that last Friday, November 12 would be the big day. The Gold Master (GM) had been released over a week before, Mac OS X 10.6.5 showed up last Wednesday, iOS 4.2 compatible apps began populating the App Store, and signs pointed to iTunes 10.1 arriving any minute as well. (It did, last Friday).
But no iOS 4.2.
Instead, alongside iTunes 10.1 Apple released a second iOS 4.2 Gold Master for iPad. Rumor has it there was a "show stopper" level Wi-Fi bug in the previous Gold Master, which necessitated the new version and "delayed" the general release until next week or the week after, depending on who, if anyone, you choose to believe.
That's resulted in some online disappointment, some charges that Apple's blown in, and some outrage that blogs like TiPb have blow it by reporting something as "delayed" which never had a public release day.
But this is exactly what's supposed to happen. Gold Master releases are put out early so developers can test their apps and so that any major "show stoppers" that escaped the beta releases can be found -- and fixed -- before the general release. Better to take a week extra and get a solid general release than to follow some arbitrary release date -- or rumored release date -- right off the cliff.
That's exactly why Apple didn't announce a specific day in November. If they finished early, they could release early. More likely, however, if it took them an extra day or week, they could take that time to get it right without risking user disappointment or public outcry from those who had to have it "right now" rather than "right".
So sure, iOS 4.2 might be "delayed" on Apple's own, private, internal release schedule, but not in any public facing way. iOS 3.2 for iPad had Wi-Fi problems from launch day. No one wants to deal with that or any major bugs again. (We'll have our hands full with the minor ones, no doubt.)
So if you're disappointed you don't have iOS 4.2 for iPad already. If you think you're missing out on AirPlay and AirPrint on iPhone, on multitasking and folders on iPad, the relax. Breath deeply. And take some solace in the knowledge that this is how it's supposed to work.
The Gold Master is released. It's tested. And if it fails, a new Gold Master is released to take its place. In that regard, we're right on schedule.
Now who has the third Tuesday at midday Cupertino time in the office pool again?