Commerce Server 2006 Beta is in the final stages of its test pass. This has been a long haul coupled with many long hours - everyone on the team is looking forward to getting this done, in the customer's hands, and adjourning for the holidays in a few days.
In short, this means you WILL have it for Christmas. This will be a public beta. I will be posting the instructions on how to get access to the bits as soon as they are validated and available. This will only be supported for production via CSS (formerly PSS) deployments for TAP validation customers though. Everyone else is welcome to use it, develop their sites, and then go live after RTM in the first half of 2006.
I'll be back with details soon before Christmas on the Beta release. In the meantime, be seeing you!