Selected MSDN and Technet subscribers can now get hold of the Windows Vista Beta 1. PC Mag have had a look:
The early version of Beta 1 we tested shows a focus on the basic structure of the operating system—in particular, a lot of changes to the things that users don't think about that often but that turn out to be very important. When Chris Jones, VP of the Windows Client team at Microsoft, discusses the team's goals, he talks first about efficiency and reducing the number of defects; then about increasing the "confidence" people have in their PCs (including better security); and lastly about improvements to user experiences, such as changes to the user interface.
There's a lot discussed in the article, and it is mostly that, discussion of what is there, because a lot of it doesn't work yet, or isn't fully functional, like I said just the other day: "take it all with a pinch of salt".

Still, at least now we've got a look at some of the things going into Vista. One point I found particularly interesting was the OS Install method. No more copying thousands of files. Instead the installer will copy an image of the OS (a bit like a disk image created by the likes of Ghost or TrueImage.) This means nearly all systems will install from the same image, which in turn means one HAL for them all. I'll let you read the article for more.