The guys at WordPress have been working hard for the last months on the new features that will be available in WordPress 2.9. They are looking for people to help beta test the new features and finding out any possible bugs. There are many different ways in which you can get involved in the beta testing process, and there are options to suit people of all different skill sets. One way is by joining the “wordpress testers” mailing list to keep up to date with the testing progress and to discuss things with the other testers.
You can also head over to the Trac ticketing system and either create tickets for any bugs you find or use some of the useful searches to look for patches that need testing. During the beta test phase they are going to focus on the stabilization of the new added features (since 2.8.4) and the removal of possible bugs. During this process they are not going to add any more enhancements so as to ensure that the focus is on making the 2.9 final release as bug-free as possible.
To make it as easy as possible for you to get a beta testing install up and running they have put together a small WordPress plugin which makes it really easy to convert a test install of the latest release version of WordPress into a beta test install of the next up and coming release. The plugin is called WordPress Beta Tester and is available to download from WordPress Extend or can be installed using the built-in plugin installer. Please make sure you to only install this plugin on a test site, as they don’t recommend running beta versions on your normal live sites, just in case anything goes wrong.
You can read more about the plugin in “Making it easy to be a WordPress Tester”. They want to release the first beta version of WordPress 2.9 around the end of October, once they finish implementing the new features, and then they switch to full on beta testing mode and your help and feedback will be very much appreciated. The final release of WordPress 2.9 will be available in either late November or early December.