Microsoft is so eager to make Windows 7 available to people (probably because despite ~300 million copies of Vista in use it has a negative perception) that it’s going to give away the Windows 7 beta for free.
According to Ballmer, Windows 7 will be available to developers immediately, and to the general public on Friday, January 9. It will be a free download from Microsoft’s site. Windows 7 Beta has been out in the wild (i.e., BitTorrent) since December, but if you’ve been waiting fora legit copy before you tried it out, you won’t have to wait much longer (FYI… I’ve tried it and while the task bar is a bit disorienting at first it runs very fast in a virtual machine and looks generally to be solid for a beta release).
What’s new in Windows 7? Under the covers it’s very similar to Windows Vista. However, aside from performancing tweaking the what is at the core of Vista, modifying the task bar and giving us virtual folders there are some new additions: Digital Living Room Network Alliance (DLNA) compliance in Windows Media Player (WMP) for easier media sharing, Bitlocker to Go for encrypting USB storage devices, Direct Access for network access without VPN, and new support for sensors and devices that will enable location-aware laptops.