Redmond (WA) - It might still carry a 'beta' tag, but Microsoft's bizarrely-named Bing search engine is up and running, a couple of days earlier than expected.
There's a nifty preview of the first few lines of each article found and the picture searching should worry Google quite a bit - it's streets ahead in terms of searching for different sized, landscape and portrait pictures and even faces, head & shoulders and other body parts.
Best of all it displays search results on one page regardless of whether there are five or 5,000 results. You can also zoom in on the images, which can be restricted by strict or moderate filtering if you don't want to accidentally see any of the above-mentioned body parts.
First impressions are that it is extremely fast and very good-looking, but you can't currently make it your default search provider in IE8* and it completely failed to answer my first query - 'Why the hell is it called Bing?'
Check it out here.
*UPDATE: No sooner had I typed this, but Bing popped up as a search option on IE8. Now that's what I call customer service...