I love C&D- they make something that was talked about in August seem groundbreaking months later!
BMW will have 8 speed autos across the line (replacing 6 speeds) by MY2013 (2012). This was announced back in August by ZF and BMW. Basically by time the next generation 3 comes to market every BMW model will be 8 speed.
They can build the 8 speed lighter and as cheap in the same space- improves emissions and fuel economy 2-3 percent.
Having driven this 8 speed a good deal (several k miles) I can tell you it works as advertised, no hunting and pecking, it can skip gears and with the regenerative braking it is good for a few miles per tank.
* Something you will not read in C&D is that this 8 speed will also be the first AUTOMATIC with start/stop technology and will allow BMW to use stop/start in cars of larger displacement (not just 4 cylinders) and in an automatic... This will be announced formally in the Spring.*