A group of former Google engineers have released a new Internet search engine called Cuil (pronounced "cool") that they say exceeds the index size of market leader Google while offering various other advantages. The idea, they say, is to out-Google Google.

"The Internet has grown exponentially in the last fifteen years but search engines have not kept up--until now. Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone else--three times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft," a posting on the Cuil Web site reads. "Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. We believe that analyzing the Web rather than our users is a more useful approach, so we don't collect data about you and your habits, lest we are tempted to peek. With Cuil, your search history is always private."

Further explaining the difference between its approach and Google's Cuil says that people want to find information that's relevant, even if it's not popular. "Maybe no one phones your grandmother much, but if her friend from the old neighborhood wants to get in touch, shouldn't her number be in the book?" the site asks. "Cuil lists all the numbers, even the ones that aren't called much. Because one day someone will need that number."

From a usage perspective, the Cuil Web site offers a sharply different experience from Google and its me-too competitors. The site returns search results in a three-column view with large abstracts, a lot of color, and images. Related searches are called out in a pleasant-looking gray-tone column as well.

As the Cuil Web site notes, the word cuil is "an old Irish word for knowledge." You can find out more about Cuil, and test the search engine, at the Cuil Web site.