All the news-articles say that it is expected to "eventually" explode. Which doesn't really tell me much. When is "eventually"? Also, considering this is the largest star in the known universe and 16k light-years away, will this be visible? Will it be dangerous?
There is little peer-reviewed information that gives a definitive time frame of when W26 would go supernova. The reason for this is that we have models of stellar lifecycles, and have found candidates at each 'age'.
With that in mind, according to a very recent article: The Ionized Nebula surrounding the Red Supergiant W26 in Westerlund 1 (Wright, 2013), (RSG = Red Super Giant)
Looking at the compared stars to W26 to see what theories, even timeframes are suggested:
According to the article Fundamental properties and atmospheric structure of the red supergiant VY CMa based on VLTI/AMBER spectro-interferometry (Wittkowski et al. 2012), the supergiant star VY CMa is
So, according to Wittkowski et al. rather than being close to supernova, could well be close to entering the next phase of stellar evolution.
According to the article Rd Supergiants in the Local Group (Levesque 2013) and Spatially resolved dusty torus toward the red supergiant WOH G64 in the Large Magellanic Cloud (Ohnaka et al. 2008), studies of WOH G64
TL:DR So, based on observations of W26 and comparable stars, there is no definitive timeframe, primarily due to these stars being close to the Hayashi forbidden region, which, according to the article Late-Type Red Supergiants: Too Cool for the Magellanic Clouds? (Levesque et al. 2007), results in them being
The Hayashi track/forbidden zones in relation to stellar masses and main sequence is shown below:
to which Levesque et al. state
Suggesting that this behaviour may be a phase (albeit one of the final phases) in their evolution. Also, at that distance, it is likely to put on a small light show, but not pose much danger to the Earth (except in the very unlikely event of a gamma ray burst).