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Microsoft Cans Encarta

Gordon Kelly


Microsoft Cans Encarta

Who didn't see this day coming?

Microsoft has finally admitted defeat to all conquering Wikipedia this week after admitting it will discontinue its once hugely successful Encarta digital encyclopaedia.

"On October 31, 2009, MSN Encarta Web sites worldwide will be discontinued, with the exception of Encarta Japan, which will be discontinued on December 31, 2009," said Microsoft in a statement. "Additionally, Microsoft will cease to sell Microsoft Student and Encarta Premium software products worldwide by June 2009... Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years. However, the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past. As part of Microsoft's goal to deliver the most effective and engaging resources for today's consumer, it has made the decision to exit the Encarta business."

Yes, that is about as close as you'll see Microsoft go to saying Wikipedia battered it. In truth, the outcome isn't surprising as Encarta was created using paid content and subsequently charged users for 'Premium' access via CD/DVD or online. This meant as of 2009 Encarta offered approximately 60,000 articles. Compare this with Wikipedia's completely free 2.8m articles in English, 12m across all languages.

Of course for those horribly sceptical of Wikipedia's open access editorial policy (despite the fact numerous studies have found it to be just as reliable as professional reference sites) Encarta offered a decent alternative. A similar future likely awaits Google's stuttering knol. Whether the axe also falls upon the recently online Britannica on the other hand is perhaps more open to debate as surely a market still exists for this famous and ancient brand (first published in 1768).

That said, can anything compete with free...?


Encarta Announcement + Q&A


April 1, 2009, 1:53 am

holy heck! i completely forgot about encarta... man it must of been at least 10 years or so since i used it.. i think, not sure how old encarta actually is, but i thought this had been dropped ages an ages ago!!


April 1, 2009, 2:58 am

Next points of attack MS Explorer, MS Office - comon people start using Firefox and Office Org.

So when is Ordnance Survey waving the white flag to Google Earth? For that mater A-Z road map publishers.


April 1, 2009, 3:40 am

@ Enigma

The difference is, hundreds of millions of people worldwide use MS Office and IE (even given the amount of stick it gets on a regular basis), whereas very few people use Encarta any more (well, actually no one given it's now been canned). Like the first poster, the last time I used it was about 10 years ago in school, and it was rubbish then IIRC.

And Google Earth is hardly a substitute for accurate maps, so I doubt that would ever happen.


April 1, 2009, 5:21 am


.... Hi Bill. I thought my comments would get under your skin and bring you out of retirement :-).


April 1, 2009, 5:34 am


Sorry for pointing out the obvious.


April 1, 2009, 6:00 am

I last bought Encarta in 2006 to update from my 1998 copy. To be honest I haven't used it much - but I use Wikipedia often.


April 1, 2009, 7:03 am

Another person here who had completely forgotten about Encarta. I'm surprised to hear it was still going until this year. Back in its day it was the bees knees. Especially when the DVD version came out with embedded videos, photos and everything.


April 1, 2009, 9:30 am

I used Encarta and Britannica some years ago. Now, they have been uninstalled. Only Wikipedia and 2 spies less.


April 1, 2009, 3:10 pm

"despite the fact numerous studies have found it to be just as reliable as professional reference sites"

Really? I only heard of one, a while back, and there seemed to be a lot of controversy about the comparison. Suggestions that missing commas were considered equivalent to entire misconceptions, and didn't Britannica complain that they were asked for summary articles and then penalised for 'not having enough information'? Lots of FUD, anyway. What studies are you referring to?


April 1, 2009, 4:16 pm

@Enigma - "So when is Ordnance Survey waving the white flag to Google Earth?"

until Google Earth includes contour maps, ordenance survey will always have a use for people who hike etc seriously. Roads are useful, satellite images are useful, but very detailed mapping of every feature of the terrain is a lot more useful! Besides, google earth and/or google maps satellite view sucks if there's trees in the way...


April 1, 2009, 5:39 pm

I'd forgotten about Encarta as well. Before the onslaught of broadband it really was a great source of information and entertaining too. A must have on any PC. Sad to see a former 'great' go though I guess it was inevitable.

And I've forgotten about Autoroute too which I used regularly during the 90s and early 00s. Wonder how long that will soldier on for?

Daniel Gerson

April 1, 2009, 7:12 pm

The best source of information about the reliability of wikipedia is...

...wikipedia! :P



April 3, 2009, 12:58 am

I too had forgotten about Encarta too haven't used it for years and autoroute brings back memories, both came with an old PC years ago.

google earth does have terrain but I agree OS maps still have years in them yet due to walkers and also academic staff and students.

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