The image isn't real, but that's basically what the game is.
They talk about head slot items in the book, but you know,head slot items. Like the sockets on items in certain online games. I could just be reading too much into that. Likely not, but you can't help but link it. And actions every round, for everyone. That means if you are a caster of any stripe, you get to cast every round (albeit from a set list, but it's a nice list.). EVERY ROUND!
1. I never had any issues with 3.5. I like the system- and I have spent a good chunk of change on it.
2. Any link between 3.5 and 4 is tenuous at best. 4th edition is really streamlined. This makes it very fun to play for new people. As per available classes- I know they said something about introducing bards later, but the Warlord class is pretty much the Bard, with a name change.