This is a mixed blessing as I thought it was good for the STO team to get an extra month of changes, fixes, and tuning in without inflicting instability on Holodeck players. However, it will be nice to finally get the Duty Officer system and other changes on the live server. It also helps keep players subscribed for one more month for those who were planning on dropping to silver accounts, and gives Cryptic a month long shakedown cruise before the (supposed) hordes of new players arrive.
If it all goes as planned, Star Trek Online should be able to open its free-to-play doors and be in the best possible shape.
The early stipend is not as much of a surprise to me. That’s a pretty standard gesture that other studios have done as well, both as a thank you and a way to keep any subscribers planning to switch account tiers around for one more month.