It seems like Microsoft is finally getting a handle on meeting their own timelines, or in this case even beating the previously announced "late April to early May" timeframe for the release of Beta 1 of the next version of Visual Studio. As of now only the Virtual PC version is available, meaning that you can download a whole VPC image that has the Orcas Beta 1 installed on Windows XP for easy testing without having to install the components on your own development machine. Within the next couple of days they will most likely also release the installation package version like they did for the March 2007 CTP. You can get the VPC version of Beta 1 here, and if you don't have the latest Virtual PC 2007 yet, you can download that here. On the official Visual Studio Orcas Download website there is also a link for a VPC image with Team Foundation Server included, but at the time of writing this blog entry the link did not work yet.
Update 4/19/2007: The TFS version download link is working now. Also, check out Soma's interview with Channel9 on the release of Orcas Beta 1.
Update 4/30/2007: In related news Microsoft just released a stand-alone version of the .NET Framework 3.5 Beta 1, so if you are interested in only the new features without having a full-blown Visual Studio Orcas underneath, you can get the 2.9MB download right here.
Once the download completes I will finally make good on my promise of writing up a review of Orcas and provide some snazzy screenshots of new features! Stay tuned for updates!