AltaVista has long been ahead of the pack with its sophisticated search options, large index (350 million sites and growing), and stelar multimedia and foreign language searches. But AltaVista may be trying to do too much. The main page is advertising-heavy and overloaded with features, news, and a hodgepodge of services. The site performs well on keyword searches but falls short when the search comes in the form of a question. When asked "What is the population of New Mexico?" in plain-language, AltaVista was way south of the border: Mexico was the subject of nine of its top 10 hits.
What to love: The dizzying array of Boolean query options; search URLs, titles, and images, for starters.
When to leave: Don`t know a Boolean query from a barmaid? Try Google instead.