They might do a beta 1 and 2, which for our purposes could just as easily be lumped togather under the monicker of "closed beta". And if we shave off a few corners and assume that alpha 2 is borrowing time from the closed beta, assuming 4 months puts us at the beginning of October. Tack on 3-4 weeks until the game shows up on store shelves and you're looking at late October at the earliest for a testing process that lasted about as long as it did for XI (probably a little shorter, depending on when in Deceber the XI beta started). That leaves SE with 2 months to play with in terms of testing longer than they did with XI and accounting for unforeseen delays and holdups. Absolutely possible for them to do it, I agree. Also absolutely possible for them to not make a 2010 release date.
I think when they said they wanted to have a longer beta than with XI, they meant the current testing as well.
It's just that we're not playing the beta version, but that's what SE is working on currently as can be seen from the comparison pics and whatnot.
You could very well be right, but at the same time I think it's important to remember what they're mainly trying to test (and address) which is server stability. SE seems to be doing a pretty good job right now, and coming from me that says a lot. They're not rushing, they're communicating with their testers, and they're sticking to what they said they wanted to do. Apparently with this most recent test, the lag was once again horrible. Until they get that sorted out, there's no point adding more servers and more testers. Also, the majority of alpha testers are still being drawn from people with active XI accounts. SE knows that they need to appeal to a broader range of players than just the XI crowd, and that means that they can't really take a lot of the feedback they're getting right now to heart and make changes because the "real" testing hasn't even begun. XI players obviously should have as much of a voice as anyone else, but right now they've got a majority voice and SE needs a broader sample of opinions to draw from before they start looking at how the game systems are received. That means that if they're shaving time off the beta to offset delays in the alpha, they're running the risk of narrowing the game's appeal.
I'm very encouraged to see SE apparently maintaining a focus on doing it right. If doing it right means 2011, then 2011 it should be.