You have probably heard that the SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP is available, but you may not have given it a try yet because it is such a pain to download the huge install file, find a test server to run it on, and then install it. Under the best of conditions, this is at least a 3 hour job.
Now, if you want to check out the new features of SQL Server 2008 R2 (the August 2009 CTP), you can without going through all this hassle. Instead, you can go to www.sqlserverbeta.com, create a virtual instance of the software, and try it out, all for free.
All you have to do is fill out a short registration form, and shortly thereafter, you will have your own personal instance of SQL Server 2008 R2 to play and experiment with. So now, you don’t have any excuse to learn about, and try out for yourself, all the cool new features in R2.