Mary Jo Foley reports that Microsoft is considering abandoning the traditional beta-reliant software development model for something more similar to open source collaboration (just with closed source). Basically, instead of the slow beta process, Microsoft would release more frequent Community Technology Previews, like they are doing with Vista.
I think the model Vista is using is great. Release one beta at the beginning of the public evaluation process, release a CTP as often as possible, and release beta two as the release candidate. Abandoning beta altogether for a full-on CTP model might be even better.
Plus, Microsoft can use it to make fun of Google. “Another Google beta? Puh-leaze! Beta is so five years ago!”