Blizzard has set loose the free Starter Edition of Diablo III today, prime for consumption by the masses. Yes, even you can now download this bite-sized bit of Diablo III and play the first half of Act I up to the Skeleton King, and level up to a maximum of 13 (60 levels in the full game). Of course, you are required to have a Battle.net account, and you will have to download a likely sizable client, but otherwise -- free Diablo III action.
The beta, prior to Diablo III's launch, contained the exact same sort of content as this Starter Edition. In fact, some of you might remember when the beta broke for a while after the beta client turned into the Starter Edition client and no one was able to log in. In other words, it seems like Blizzard has been sitting on this for some time now. Perhaps player retention has dropped past a certain point, or who knows why, but Blizzard decided now was the right time.
Diablo III is approaching the release of patch 1.0.4, which will ease some of the more difficult portions of Inferno mode, along with increasing drop rates and the quality of various items. Starter Edition players may not be able to reach such content, but if you do find yourself picking up this free demo and liking it, it's good to know Blizzard is working hard to improve the game in the mean time. Check it out any time you're ready, though to be fair the Starter Edition has been available via "buddy pass" since launch.