You may have seen a lot of messages about the launch date for Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008. According to this announcement, Microsoft has planned a grouped launch event in Los Angeles for February 27, 2008.
This does not mean that all the products will be released at that same date. Some may be released after the event, others may be released before.
It seems that the RTM of Visual Studio 2008 is still planned for the end of the year. Doug Seven, Senior Product Manager for Visual Studio Team System, writes on his blog: "While the launch events are scheduled to kick off on February 27, 2008, Visual Studio 2008 will be released before the end of the year."
Scott Guthrie confirms this on a comment to this blog post: "Our hope is to release the product earlier than that - in which case it will be available for MSDN subscribers to download as well as for people to buy prior to the launch events. We haven't announced a target date for this yet - but I suspect it will be several weeks or a few months before the launch event."
Regarding VS 2008 Beta 2, Scott writes in another comment to the same blog post that the plan is to make it available for download in the next three weeks with a go-live license. This means that we are only three weeks away from being able to use .NET 3.5 in production!