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I think the only thing lacking is depth of crawling so that the depth of pages can answer niche queries.
Spam - yes it's there in abundance. Google - yes it not only has spam problems but crawling is so shallow it is the new Altavista, what the hell why not use sitemaps (i.e. can't crawl need you to help!). Yahoo - poohoo, crawling is soooo shallow and depth of index makes Ask look comprehensive (but it's not!).
I am excited by what is round the corner for MSN, I like the terminology "bug fixing" etc. - it is honest, it admits that it is a piece of software that people work on and fix bugs etc.
It's like the good old days - write software, fix bugs - have users complain about bugs (admit bugs), fix bugs etc....
Now tell me where that has happened in the last 3 years with Google.
1. total spam blogspot site
2. Huge affiliate site
3. Authority site for related terms, but not in my market
Other listings include single pages about the search terms on sites that are otherwise unrelated, a wholesale site that offers nothing but product lists and doesn't even sell to the public, a one page site that only says, click this link to our other site that is actually open among others. All those on the first two pages, the results get worse after that.