Microsoft releases Windows Live QnA beta

Microsoft's foray into social search is no longer invite-only. Now in public beta mode, Windows Live QnA allows users to ask and find answers to their most burning questions.

Like Yahoo Answers and Answerbag, Windows Live QnA makes community members the voice of authority. Recently asked questions range from esoteric ("Why?") to practical ("What's the best tablet PC on the market?") to just plain silly ("Will drinking a Coke while eating pop rocks explode your stomach?")

After a question is asked, the entire community has four days to come up with answers. Everyone who offers an answer gets points and users are charged with choosing the "Best Answer." Racking up more Best Answer points improves your ranking, earning you gold stars by your username that are meant to denote your relative level of trustworthiness.

Live QnA's open tagging system lets users categorize their own question to increase each query's visibility and obtain more specific answers.