last night steve ballmer kicked off ces 2009 and introduced the windows 7 beta. it is available today on msdn and technet and will more broadly available on friday. now that it is officially unveiled, a number of internal folks will begin dogfooding (running the beta in production to provide feedback and fully experience windows 7 during day to day operations). bitlocker to go is one of these experiences for me. It would be an off day if I wasn't carrying at least one external usb stick or portable hard drive with me and being able to encrypt the contents on the external device as well as the data on my laptop will be a huge improvement.
homegroup is another enhancement i've been making use of over the holidays. i had 6 windows 7 systems running at home - all connected to each other via homegroup. it made sharing information much easier and allowed me to let up to 6 of the 20 or so guests we had check out the new capabilities of windows 7 and internet explorer 8 as they surfed the net.
the ui enhancements which were demoed at ces but surpressed in the pre beta build, are available in the beta. these take many of the feature requests i've heard from customers (and have had myself) and allow more efficient use of the real estate available to you in windows 7. the one i'm most excited about is the new taskbar. having quick launch and running applications together is a huge improvement and saves my taskbar from quickly becoming unmanagable.
now that i have another build available, i expect i'll hit well over 100 systems built before the end of january.
Steve Ballmer announced during his CES keynote the immediate availability of the Windows 7 beta to TechNet