To refute a few myths about this, we are doing this because we already have over 3 million completed downloads of beta 2, well over our targets for the year and more than enough beta testers. In fact we hit our end of financial year target in the first month! The download site is hosted for us to ensure decent download times and a good experience and this costs Microsoft money every time so the £1 fee now is a cost recovery charge to enable us to keep running the beta download site now that the budget has all gone. We had the choice of either pulling the beta download or starting to charge for it and it was decided it was better to keep it going.
Don't forget, we have cover mounted beta 2 on lots of magazines including the recent PC Pro (superb detailed guide by Simon Jones) and the current PC Plus editions.
You can also just test drive the product without downloading it at our preview site via citrix.
The tech refresh of beta 2 due out in a few weeks will be a patch which updates beta 2 but the patch itself will be free.