Mary Jo Foley, who revealed that the first Windows 7 beta would drop in December and could still make its late 2009 release date, has seen the latest build of Windows 7, Milestone 3, which is just preview build away from becoming Beta 1. The verdict? Other than Office 2007's loved/hated Ribbon UI sprinkled throughout, showing up in WordPad and Paint, well, "The latest build seems quite stable... From what admittedly little I had a chance to see, Windows 7 does not look or feel like a major departure from Windows Vista." Update: Actual screenshot of Ribbonized Paint.
Since it's only a build or two away from beta, after which features are more or less set, don't expect dramatic changes, particularly we're apparently talking about a little more than a year left in the OS's dev cycle, if those target dates hold. Whether the kinship to Vista is good or bad might largely be a matter of taste, though in a way it shows Microsoft really just needed more time to get Vista right. [ZDNet - Thanks Mohamed!]