Actually, start.com looks ans works great. Like you, I am a massive Google fan, and have come to dislike MS websites in the past, specially Hotmail. But this is something completely different. User friendly, alternative to IE friendly (which is a big step).
Like it, like it, like it.
My website (although not a 100% done yet) is 100% AJAX. Only one page load, and then the content is fetched by Ajax components. Very, very cool stuff, although I say so myself :o
Again ... please hire me