The company has quietly begun public testing of the next generation of Google Search at www2.sandbox.google.com.
"For the last several months, a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project: a next-generation architecture for Google's web search," confirmed Google software engineer Sitaram Iyer. "It's the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions. The new infrastructure sits "under the hood" of Google's search engine, which means that most users won't notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences, so we're opening up a web developer preview to collect feedback."
Iyler stresses that "parts of this system aren't completely finished yet" but Google is keen to garner user feedback on the differences you observe between the current and next generation versions. This can be done by clicking on the "Dissatisfied? Help us improve" link on the bottom of the search results page.
What have we noticed? Speeds between the two seem very similar, but you get a lot more search results with the new version (new top, old bottom). At this stage however handy related search content is missing, ie: Maps from address searches, appropriate video, etc. There does seem to be a greater emphasis on social networking sites too with our Twitter page jumping from seventh to third in the results.
Let us know what you spot...