Back at the beginning I registered a new domain. Almost immediately Googlebot turned up and indexed it, followed less than a week later by Baiduspider. It's taken until now however for the rest of the gang to turn up - over this weekend the site finally got a visit from Yahoo! Slurp, MSNbot and a surprise visitor from MERL.
What makes the progression interesting (and as someone who works at MS a little worrying that we took so long) is not just the fact that Google and Baidu found the site before it was linked from anywhere (do they have deals with the hosting ISP, the domain registrar or do they watch DNS servers for new sites - and do Baidu get data from Google, which would explain the quick following in the footsteps) but that even when it was in other indexes and had a couple of links from sites that are much longer established they took so long to find the site... and the quality of a search on both Yahoo! and MSN doesn't yet return as much content as Google (can't speak for Baidu until I find a Chinese speaker).
Since the latest upgrade of the Live search engine I've been pretty impressed with the quality of the results and the speed (it's certainly a much stronger contender for Google now) but it seems that there's still a little bit of work do go on agility to make sure it finds sites quicker and gets a better in-depth picture. Older, better established, sites don't seem to have the depth or discovery issues so it's obviously something a few repeat visits would resolve.
Still no sign of Ask (formerly known as AskJeeves) or some of the other second tier players... but except for a few niche uses I've not seen much reason to desert the big two (ah, I remember finally switching from WebCrawler to Google years ago!)