Repeating the minor miracle that patch 16 inaugurated, Diablo III beta patch 17 went online on time and without major incident, just a short time ago. The Blue thread was updated and after playing for the last hour, I can confirm that the patch is working and that characters, achievements, and everything else have been wiped.
I was prepared to say that some subtle tweaks have been made; I first played a Barbarian to level 9 and checked the ring merchant numerous times without ever seeing a ring with +damage. There were rings, but just with +hps per kill, small bonuses to stats, +experience per kill, etc. Never any with +damage though, which seemed reasonable to me, as that modifier on commonly-obtainable rings at level 6 was making the early going way too easy.
And then I played another game with a Wizard for 20 minutes, and my first check of that vendor showed him with two rings, both with +2-4 damage plus another stat. Thus is demonstrated the dangers of drawing sweeping conclusions from limited sample sizes.
That said, I don’t notice anything in gameplay, NPCs, different in this patch than the previous one. Things really do seem to be pretty well set in their all-but-final release state.