In his keynote address at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer announced the availability of a beta version of Windows 7. If you have an MSDN subscription or are a member of TechNet, you can download the Windows 7 beta right now. Presumably, there will be another area on the Microsoft site where the general public can download it later this month.
Yours truly recently predicted that a fully tested Windows 7 operating system would not be released until the fourth quarter of 2010. Apparently, Microsoft is gearing up for a release date about one year earlier than that. I am still skeptical that they will make it by the end of 2009, but I will download the beta and see what is what.
If you try the Windows 7 beta, jump in the TechRepublic forums to let us know what you think.