Avalon is getting closer with every day, and Monday was an important milestone for us, with the release of the Avalon & Indigo Beta 1 RC. OK, so "Beta 1 RC" is something of an anachronism, but think of this as a CTP quality release that is feature complete for Beta 1. This release is functionally equivalent to the Beta 1 release that will be coming out this summer, but without the final Beta 1 documentation and the inevitable few bug fixes that will come once people have tested this release for a while. You can find the release here.

This is now the fifth external release of Avalon: the PDC 2003 Longhorn build was the first, followed by the WinHEC build of Longhorn and CTP releases in Nov 2004 and Mar 2005. Each release has shown steady improvements in feature set, performance and consistency, and this one is no exception, I'm pleased to say. I was in Europe last week demonstrating some of our latest demos to some very large companies with worldwide brand recognition, and the response was universally positive. I'd love to hear about what you're doing with Avalon, if you've been using it thus far - if not, this release is a great time to take a first look.