If you're yearning to try the new Windows 7 beta everyone's talking about but don't have a spare machine lying around, fear not: you can install it in a small corner of your primary PC, without interfering with any of your day-to-day operations.
The secret: creating a new drive partition where the beta can take up residence. Lifehacker has a step-by-step guide that shows you how to do this, so I won't regurgitate the steps here.
I will say that I tried this over the weekend and it worked like a charm. Ironically, it's easiest for Windows Vista users, as that OS has built-in drive-partitioning tools. (And you thought it brought nothing new to the table.) But you can do it in Windows XP as well, provided you leverage a freeware partitioning program.
After you're done with the install, you'll be able to boot to your original Windows partition or the new one containing Windows 7. Truly, this is an ideal way to take the beta for a spin. And when you're done tinkering (or the licence expires next August, whichever comes first), you can easily remove the partition to reclaim the drive space.