1. As far as I know, no actual date has been announced as it’s still in active development. I heard rumors of Q4 2013 but I just recently heard from someone else that it’s Q1 2014.
2. I don’t know how Magento plans to handle this but from looking at the code in GitHub, the two versions are very different. I’m not sure if there will be a way to upgrade without a full rebuild or not yet.
3. I’ll leave this one open. We build all of our themes from scratch so I’m not sure where the best pre-built themes can be found
4. We’ve used Rackspace, RootAccess, and Nexxus. There is a lot to consider when choosing a host.
How large will your catalog be?
How many websites? (Multiply your catalog by stores, that’s the actual catalog size in the database).
How many attributes?
What is the estimated traffic going to be to the site?
Is that traffic expected to grow significantly in the next year or two?
Is your customer base in a specific country or international? (If international, have you considered a CDN?)
Will your host support Memcache, APC, or Varnish? (caching)
Will your host help make small tweaks to apache if needed?
Will your host consult you before updating PHP (this can and has broken Magento installations, be careful).
What version control will you use? How will this play into your hosting plan?
There is a lot more that needs to be considered. Magento is a beast, and as such, can require a lot of things setup very specifically to keep it running smooth.
5. You can find all partners here (There is a filter to help show only for China): http://www.magentocommerce.com/partners/solution/
6. There are currently 3 Magento packages (There used to be a 4th, “Pro” but I don’t see it offered on the site anymore)
> This is a popup site much like Amazon’s. You have absolutely no access to the backend code (PHP, XML, MYSQL, etc) and the site is hosted with Magento. This is good because it keeps your store stable and is easy enough to manage where you probably don’t need a developer on staff. However, if you want to be able to customize Magento far beyond it’s default behavior, this isn’t for you.
This comes with support
Magento Community Edition
> This is a free full version of Magento. No support. You will download the source code and then host it yourself. This is good if you need to customize Magento, like the idea of managing your own host, but don’t really need a lot of support from Magento themselves. If you have a developer or are a developer with experience in PHP, XML, JS, CSS, HTML, MYSQL, and cURL/SOAP, this could work.
Magento Enterprise Edition
This costs roughly 15k a year. Full Support, packed full of more features then what you find in the community edition. You host it, and develop it yourself. Think of a beafed up version of community with support, and that you pay for, that is the enterprise edition.
For a full list of features, checkout:
http://www.magentocommerce.com/product/overview-compare?utm_source=magentocommerce&utm;_medium=topnav (scroll further down to see the comparisons)