The English-only beta is built on Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit, unlike the previous version which was based on Windows Server 2003 32-bit, and includes a new software development kit (SDK) for anyone who wants to create add-in applications for Vail. The folks over at MediaServer.net have already posted their preview of the platform. The new media capabilities have a lot in common with Windows 7, offering transcoding, streaming, and remote playback to other networked machines -- all of which is managed through the Windows Home Server web front-end.
To try it out, users must register at Microsoft Connect. The install itself wipes the system clean and the minimum requirements include a 1.4 GHz x64 processor, 1GB RAM, and at least one 160 GB hard drive.