People seem to be becomining more and more uneducated about what a Beta is exactly.
It's NOT a product, so to speak.
It's safe to assume absolutely nothing in a Beta test. It can crash at any time, cause any unkown advarse effect on your system and your character can be deleted, modified or changed at any time.
Remember, for all you know, I'll use FFXI crafting as an example;
You could level Clothcraft to 100
In a later patch, they could well remove Clothcraft.
If you're planning on wanting to keep the character, don't bother with the Beta, even if SE say you can keep them, there is no certainty in it.
Also: don't bank on it being a Download
A.) PS3's don't offer this kind of service
B.) On PC it could be a HUGE file for all we know.
Edited, Jun 7th 2009 1:30pm by ditx
Also, if you are interested in being a part of the beta, understand that you are TESTING the game and providing feedback in order to make the game as good as it can be before release. You must apply to be a part of the beta, and you must recieve an invitation. Not everyone will get in. A lot of it will depend on your system specs, whether you've beta tested other games in the past, and if you are a current FFXI player, I'm going to go ahead and guess that they're going to look at your record there to make sure you haven't been banned or have other marks against you.
You WILL be signing an NDA if you are accepted into the closed beta. So, don't think that once you're in the beta, you can go around whereever and let everyone in on what you've seen. You'll be testing anything and everything from the smoothness of character animations to battle systems. The developers will have certain events where they'll have you test specific things, like gathering everyone in one area to test the stress on the servers, or to see how smoothly the game runs during large battles. Once the closed beta is over, they may or may not have an open beta where many more people can take part. After the open beta, devs usually shut down the servers for a few days or weeks, wipe all of the character information, and everyone starts on the same footing at release.
Ultimately, beta testing isn't for people who just want to see the game before anyone else. You are beta testing so that everyone can enjoy the game to the fullest when it is released.