The Beta release that you got allows MS Office to be tested and will function like a full program. If it didn't expire at some point, then people would carry on using it for free instead of paying for the retail version. Anyway, if you want a free office suite you could try OpenOffice which is usually distributed with Linux but is similar to MS Office - click here.
I received a thankyou for testing Office 2007 beta this week with a reminder that as I have downloaded the Technical refresh my beta expires on 31 March not 1 Feb.
It also said if you have not downloaded the Beta2 technical refresh it can be accessed on the Microsoft site. I think this was the upgrade to ensure Office 2007 Beta would be ok with Vista. Office still works for me but cannot be updated.
Forum Editor Does that really matter, for most people using Word 2003 or Open Office Write means writing letters, thesis, memos, etc. and the .doc format may well be adequate. I haven't tried word 2007 but from reviews, I understand that the main difference is in the user interface - the ribbon, and IMO it is what is output that is important. Why change for change sake, for the majority the necessary learning curve may outweigh the presumed increase in productivity. In any case if there is a perceived need, the Open Office developers will probably work to meet that need. I still think the price benefit (£0) of OO compared with the UK rip-off prices defined by Msoft means that OO wins.