The existing stable branch of Textpattern CMS is such that we decided it would be supported long-term (more so than is typical of open source). The idea being that users would still have something that works, updates containing security and bug fixes. This necessitates very few features being added (as in, nothing large or sweeping, but small things could be added), because every time you make any kind of change the possibility of new bugs increases.
Nothing in Textpattern CMS 4.0.5 is secret. Everything from revision 1967 onward is part of what will become 4.0.5; lots and lots of bug fixes and a couple new features. It will all be detailed, as usual, in the release docs that will accompany it.
4.1.x, or “crockery”, is certainly not deceased, so I’ve no idea where that idea comes from. There are significant changes already in it. To those that have looked at it, the interface doesn’t yet look any different because the backend – the guts that power everything, is taking priority, as it should. Who cares if it is pretty but non-functional? Once 4.1.x is released, there will actually be two stable versions of Textpattern CMS available and supported: 4.0.x, or Textpattern as it is now, and 4.1.x, a very new creature indeed. Both will be free and open source.