Following the first beta, Microsoft today announced that it will be releasing a second public test version of its XNA Game Studio Express Suite. According to the XNA team blog, the software will be available "in a couple weeks." The decision to provide another beta comes somewhat as a surprise, as the final version of the software is planned to be introduced during this Christmas season. However, program manager Michael Klucher mentioned that "one of the most popular requests [from the community] has been for a second beta."
As a result, while the upcoming beta will be in fact called "Beta 2," Klucher refers to it "more as a final release candidate."
XNA Game Studio Express represents a set of APIs needed for the general functionality of Windows and Xbox 360 games. The final version of the package will be available for free, but users who want to run their own games on an Xbox 360 will have to become members of a special "creator's club" - which apparently will also include tools to upgrade an Xbox 360 to a "development system." The annual membership fee for this club will be $99.