I'm back from some long vacation, and got one last gift for the year in the form of beta 1! I want to congratulate Jim and team on shipping the beta, which can be down loaded here. This release represents a lot of hard work and commitment. I'm very excited to see V2.0 out there for people followed closely by this release.
I'm also glad to see the interest from the community in the work. I always find some of the conspiracy comments fascinating. As owner of the CLR, my interest in IronPython is most directly related to our effort to bring strong dynamic languages to .NET for our developer community (remember what the 'C' and 'L' stand for). I blogged back in March why I think a compiler writer would want to do this. Having a great IronPython compiler first and foremost demonstrates how to be successful in writing such a compiler.
If you recall, Jim's thesis (before joining Microsoft) was that such a thing wasn't possible. This was based in part on observing other attempts whose design did not give them a superior result. Jim simply out engineered those efforts and the results show how powerful the engine already was for the space. (I'd also give credit to people like Jim Miller who had us designing and building the right support in the CLI over 7 years ago)
Bottom line: I'm very excited to see the indutry embracing these languages (check out the Infoworld poll as well), and I'm commited to having .NET provide world class support.