1) I've had that build for quite a while now, early-mid september I think. I've got 2 PC
's running it at the moment mainly for testing, but to be honest I don't expect to be rolling it out before 2008. I recieved shiny new DVD's from MS
the other day which I'm led to believe contain the new 'developer-only' beta release - I'll be playing with that later this week.
2) It's pretty OK
, but I've noticed as the beta's get closer and closer to release spec they are removing more and more of the 'new' features. For instance the fancy sidebar with the analog clock in the early beta's is gone from the lastest one.
One feature I really like is the scalable 'vector' icons. Icons thankfully are no longer bitmaps.
Another feature I like is the 'auxiliary display'. I saw some laptop mock-ups at an intel conference recently that had small LCD
displays on the outside of the lids - these are apparently the 'auxiliary displays'.
Start menu is a lot better, uses sort-of sliding panes now instead of expanding menu's.
New logon authentication model is a lot better, more unix like.
They finally got rid of the silly 'My Computer' labels, it's now just called 'Computer' along with 'Documents' instead of 'My Documents' etc.
Best thing for an IT
manager like me is the new installation routine, it no longer requires user input during the installation routine - just set it running and bugger off for 45 mins, come back and it'll be sitting at the login screen for you. No more messing around with unattended installation scripts!
A really big feature which has now been abandoned from the initial release is the new filesystem. WinFS was supposed to replace NTFS, and was more akin to a relational database than a filesystem. This will now be a seperate project and I've recently recieved a copy of the Beta 1 version of WinFS, with the realease of the production code due a little after the relaese of Vista. I'm told that the functionality of the much-hyped new search tool in Vista will be vastly reduced due to this.
3) Now that's a question - the very early Beta's were time restricted, but no-one found this out until the time was up. Later beta's were restricted also, but MS
made no secret of this. The current beta's I'm running make no mention of being time-restricted, but that's not to say the aren't. Also, I was recently told that MS
maintain two Beat streams, one for us developers which have no time restriction and another for 'the rest' which is time-restricted. I have no idea how true this is!
Statistically, people who have had the most birthdays tend to live the longest.