Microsoft's Windows Vista may not be arriving till January 2007, but anyone can try it now - or at least a beta version of the operating system, launched yesterday.

Microsoft has produced the public beta to produce user feedback, to help get the product right before its scheduled launch. It can be downloaded from Microsoft's Windows Vista site, under the heading: "Windows Vista Beta 2 Customer Preview Program."

Earlier, more limited beta releases have already resulted in changes to security features in the User Account Control (UAC). The next full beta version is due in late August, pushed from a scheduled mid-July release.

Windows Vista is the first full revamp of Microsoft's ubiquitous operating system since Windows XP arrived in October 2001.