A friend of mine in the dev biz has done some quick-n-dirty comparisons between Google and Bing (Microsoft's LiveSearch, re-branded and apparently substantially redeveloped as well) and been surprised by the results--in Bing's favor.
So much so, that he's switching to Bing for a week to see if the bloom on the rose lasts. I think I might give that a try, too. As he says, no matter how much we might love Google, competition is healthy and ensures a robust ecosystem.
Aesthetically, I'm not sure that I'm crazy about the background image, even with the embedded links. It does save the page from basically looking like Google with a different logo on it, though.