The wait is over, folks. Sir Steve Ballmer has announced the availability of Windows 7 Beta and Windows Live here at his CES keynote. The official word is this: "The beta version of Windows 7, Microsoft's next-generation PC operating system, can be downloaded today by MSDN, TechBeta and TechNet customers. Consumers who want to test-drive the beta will be able to download it beginning January 9 at http://www.microsoft.com/windows7." Moreover, Windows Live -- described as "a free suite of communications and sharing applications that make it easy for people to communicate, share and keep their online lives in sync and in one place with one login -- is now globally available. Oh, and did we mention that January 9th is this Friday? Huzzah!