Eeesh, more than a month since I last posted.
I got feedback in the past couple days ago that while the community drops/more frequent builds are nice, what many people (especially non-MSDN subscribers) want is access to any build period. The feedback is to work on that first, and more specifically to get our Whidbey beta out and give the public access to it.
That is actually what we are doing right now. The Whidbey beta is close - our mktg folks will announce it when the time comes but it's not far off. There will be a public fulfillment mechanism - details will be part of the announce. There are some other good things coming as well that will help address the pent-up demand among people who don't have it already.
It's an interesting time that shows we haven't gotten the transparency thing totally mastered yet. We still want the big press bang that comes with announcing a beta. To get that it means that people like me have to be kind of cagey about what's going on. I don't love it and I think in the long run we'll move towards being more open about schedules and status. I've had a conversation with both Channel9 and our mktg team about tracking the beta2 ship push on Channel9 - publishing bug charts (big numbers!), talking about status, etc.. People are in favor of doing this even though it means people will be able to infer the beta2 release date pretty accurately long beforehand. This idea came from looking at beta1 - we're doing better at being open with technical info and direction but for no good reason we have not been as open about dates/status. Some of the other comments to my blog and elsewhere have pointed out specific examples of how this causes problems for people. It's great to have good press buzz but you also want to keep enthusiastic customers enthusiastic by not making them guess so much.