If you haven't grabbed Microsoft's Office 2007 beta, you might wish to do so in the next day or so. As of August 2, the download will now incur a small $1.50 USD fee for cost recovery.
Though it might seem to be a bit unfair to charge for a beta, Microsoft's explanation for the move as a 'cost recovery' for server hosting is more than plausible. This is the first time that MS has opened its test code up to so many, and it is already very functional.
The beta has been incredibly popular, providing tonnes of feedback but also tonnes of bandwidth cost. Microsoft has record of over three million (!!!) people running the beta at the moment, which is a staggering amount of data being downloaded.
If you want to take a look at the new features but have no interest in running the beta or paying the $1.50 fee, Microsoft will leave their online 'test drive' up. It's well worth a look, though frankly the $1.50 is well worth paying for the beta if you're interested in a more hands-on experience. As the product doesn't seem like it will be in retail stores til at least the end of this year, you'll certainly get your money's worth from it.
Got a thought on the charge? Do you think it's unfair to ask for payment on still unfinished code, or do you agree that it's an understandable fee for the bandwidth? Let us know your thoughts in our forums