In the comments to an earlier post, Carl asks a good question:
Microsoft’s Windows beta programs have always been a mystery to me. I’ve worked with Windows as a Sysadmin for 9 years, and I still don’t know how to get into the Windows Beta program. I’m aware that the Vista beta is available to Technet Plus and MSDN customers, but I don’t need MSDN and don’t see the value of Technet Plus at the price Microsoft charges. I’d really like to test Vista, but don’t know how to do so legally. Any insight?
The secret is to think way ahead and to nominate yourself. Microsoft sent out the original invitations for the Windows Vista beta program last July, and the list was probably put together months before that. The team that runs the beta test program tries to put together a diverse group that represents a broad cross-section of potential customers, so having enthusiasm and a willingness to participate is more important than technical chops.
How do you get considered for a future beta program? Watch news sites to see when beta nominations open. Typically, you visit a Web site and log in with a publicly available user name and password. You fill out a questionnaire, and then you wait.
Don’t limit your request to just Windows, either. If you can get yourself invited into a related program and then actively participate in it by filing quality bug reports, you’re more likely ot get invitied to a future beta program.