I have just been looking at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/biztalk_server_team_blog/archive/2012/08/29/getting-started-with-biztalk-server-2010-r2-ctp-in-windows-azure-virtual-machines.aspx to understand some of the new features. I am not going to wax on about any of the new features here because other people are already doing a good job at this (See http://blogs.msdn.com/b/biztalk_server_team_blog/archive/2011/12/08/biztalk-server-2010-r2.aspx) but I want to highlight how refreshing it is to preview a new product version hosted in Azure.
In the past if you wanted to preview a new version of a Microsoft product it required some effort. First you had to acquire all the media, operating systems etc. Secondly you had to find some hardware to install it on. Thirdly you had to install everything and this was fun not! Finally you could run the sucker up and start to look at its features. If you where lucky this might take you half a day or so. Now with the above preview I just followed the instructions in the link above and I was able to start using and previewing the BizTalk 2010 R2 about thirty minutes later.
Thank you Microsoft, you have made my job a little bit easier.