Microsoft kills Encarta, Wikipedia to blame?

According to the Encarta FAQ page, Microsoft is killing off the encyclopaedia--the 2009 versions, it would seem, will be the last. The MSN Encarta websites will, with the exception of the one serving the Japanese market, all be taken down on 31 October 2009 (the Japanese version will come down on 31 December 2009). Microsoft Student and Encarta Premium will cease to be sold by June 2009. Customers with subscriptions to online content will be reimbursed.

According to Wikipedia, the first edition of Encarta was released in 1993, and in the years that followed the number of articles grew and grew, with the 2008 version of Encarta Premium boasting more than 62,000. But why is Microsoft giving Encarta the axe?

In an answer to Microsoft's own question ("Why are these Encarta Web sites and software products being discontinued?"), the Redmond company responds with: "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. Microsoft's vision is that everyone around the world needs to have access to quality education, and we believe that we can use what we've learned and assets we've accrued with offerings like Encarta to develop future technology solutions. In doing so, we feel strongly that we are making the right investments that will help make our vision a reality."

Many, however, will view Wikipedia as the key reason for the fall of Encarta. For one thing, it's free. For another, it's available on any computer with an Internet connection. For a third, it's updated quite a bit more quickly than Encarta ever was.

In fact, according to Wikipedia, Microsoft's product had on occasion failed to be updated in anything approaching a timely manner: "[f]or example, an early 2005 edition of the article about the political philosopher John Rawls opens with 'Rawls, John (1921- ),' although he had died on November 24, 2002. Encarta failed to note the date of his passing until April 2005--about 2-1/2 years after the event."

(Wikipedia's article on Encarta has already been updated to reflect the latter's decease.)

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40 Comments

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Noooooooo!!!!
I honestly don't care much about the Encarta portion of the program, I only use the Dictionary segment of it.
I've looked for other computer based dictionaries, and Encarta had the best one, by far.

I can't stand the online dictionaries, so I'm going to really miss the Encarta Dictionary, unless there is another version out there for the computer that's just as good which I haven't found as of yet.
I will just have to use the 2009 version of Encarta Dictionary from now on I suppose.

Either way, I won't miss the Encarta Encyclopedia at all, since I haven't used it in years.

Does anyone miss the old Encarta welcome song that starts with a BONG and followed by Native American chants? (at least the one from the 1999 edition)

This sucks. I could cite Encarta on papers but the colleges in my area don't allow you to cite Wikipedia (since it gets vandalized and has incorrect information from time to time).

techbeck said,
Dont know anyone who uses Encarta. MS stopped making Frontpage as well...

Actually no, they just renamed Frontpage to Expression Web.

That's really a shame. I use the R-Click "Look up in Encarta Dictionary" IE plugin all the time. I also wonder what will happen to the Reference features of Office...

This is horrible. Encarata had a degree of credibility where as wikipedia has no such claim; anyone can claim whatever they wish.

Bad for students, bad for academics.

Encarta has been a good source for info when writing papers for class. Matter of fact I don't use Wikipedia for much of anything because the level of trust in whats offered is just not good enough to base the thesis of my papers on. This really sucks because I can often find good information in Encarta that often takes hours or days searching through my schools varried online libraries.

NPGMBR said,
Encarta has been a good source for info when writing papers for class. Matter of fact I don't use Wikipedia for much of anything because the level of trust in whats offered is just not good enough to base the thesis of my papers on. This really sucks because I can often find good information in Encarta that often takes hours or days searching through my schools varried online libraries.

http://news.cnet.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html

Many, however, will view Wikipedia as the key reason for the fall of Encarta.

I don't even see MS as denying this, only veiling it in words that don't mention Wikipedia. I think this is exactly what MS is implying with "new ways of searching information" in this FAQ. A traditional online encyclopedia can simply not keep up with the pace of wikis at all. Sure, wikis have their own disadvantages with quality and vandalism risks, but still -- when searching for niche articles and finding up-to-date information, that's such a huge advantage over not finding an article at all.

MS had outsourced Encarta's development to a third party. Websters Multimedia. The 2005 was the last good version based on the old Bookshelf engine, although Student and Math are good products, they removed the alphabetical A-Z browsable index from Encarta 2006 and later. Unless you searched for what you wanted to look up, there was no to just casually browse the encyclopedia. Even if Wikipedia is blamed or accused, it's well worth as an Encarta replacement for me, Encarta was no match for Wikipedia, and that's because of the web and "people's knowledge" model. MS realized that and took the right decision.

vipwoody said,
This is a sad day.

Nothing what so ever sad about it.

Good riddance to a way over priced product that has no use, if you have internet access anyway.

cork1958 said,
Nothing what so ever sad about it.

Good riddance to a way over priced product that has no use, if you have internet access anyway.


Another anti-MS spew for Cork. Please ban this person.

Man, I'm really bummed out about this. I thought Encarta had so much more potential to revolutionize the way we could find info., and maybe even teaching. It's just that Microsoft hasn't committed much resources to that team, and now it's going to have to die. Like over the years, there has been relatively almost no new features, and it's just a rehash of the same thing with a few updates and some different user interface.

I bought Microsoft Student 2007, and while it was an interesting way of having a digital encyclopedia, it just didn't seem to give me all the information I would like to go more in depth. Encarta is good at generalizing most stuff, and giving out the more essential data. The multimedia contents ROCKS. Like an article about a country, will usually have good charts, and even the feature to HEAR the national anthem of that nation. Stuff like that rocks.

Also Microsoft Math is absolutely amazing. Really. It's essentially a graphing calculator on your computer. Even with 3D capabilities! And the Student Tools is neat too, giving you custom Microsoft Office templates that are handy in various subject areas and project types. Also, Encarta dictionary has to be the best electronic dictionary there is, giving not just the definition, but a bolded quick phrase to describe it more generally.

I'm sad to see Encarta die, but I certainly hope that some parts can be salvaged, like Microsoft Math, Student Tools, and Encarta dictionary/thesaurus.

Quikboy said,
Man, I'm really bummed out about this. I thought Encarta had so much more potential to revolutionize the way we could find info., and maybe even teaching. It's just that Microsoft hasn't committed much resources to that team, and now it's going to have to die. Like over the years, there has been relatively almost no new features, and it's just a rehash of the same thing with a few updates and some different user interface.

I bought Microsoft Student 2007, and while it was an interesting way of having a digital encyclopedia, it just didn't seem to give me all the information I would like to go more in depth. Encarta is good at generalizing most stuff, and giving out the more essential data. The multimedia contents ROCKS. Like an article about a country, will usually have good charts, and even the feature to HEAR the national anthem of that nation. Stuff like that rocks.

Also Microsoft Math is absolutely amazing. Really. It's essentially a graphing calculator on your computer. Even with 3D capabilities! And the Student Tools is neat too, giving you custom Microsoft Office templates that are handy in various subject areas and project types. Also, Encarta dictionary has to be the best electronic dictionary there is, giving not just the definition, but a bolded quick phrase to describe it more generally.

I'm sad to see Encarta die, but I certainly hope that some parts can be salvaged, like Microsoft Math, Student Tools, and Encarta dictionary/thesaurus.

The entire suite should be. There should be a peace of software designed for high school and college students. With Encarta gone, theres nothing but programs with dated UI's and unsorced information,

What's gonna happen to the IE 8 Accelerators now? One of the main Accelerator is "Define with Encarta" !!!! Are they gonna have to use Dictionary.com now?

andrewbares said,
What's gonna happen to the IE 8 Accelerators now? One of the main Accelerator is "Define with Encarta" !!!! Are they gonna have to use Dictionary.com now?

wikipedia :lol:

let me get this straight ... something free is blamed for killing off something not free from an vampiric company?

you call that blaming, i call that "'bout freaking time".

It isn't being "blamed", as that would intimate that Wikipedia was setup with the sole purpose of taking Encarta down. The writer of the article (unlike you) is exibiting no bios and merely stating that because of Wikipedia being Free, arguably better, and more frequently updated, Encarta is losing sales and profit. Microsoft are therefore doing the right thing by streamlining their operation by ditching the things that are making losses.

Frank Fontaine said,
The writer of the article (unlike you) is exibiting no bios...

You'd think that, wouldn't you.

Considering the title of that article is 'Microsoft kill Encarta, Wikipedia to blame?', I think it's safe to say that neither Albert nor the writer of this article have any, er, bios'.

No one suffers from a lack of bias. ;)

Wikipedia is probably the main reason for the death of Encarta, though, however you want to cut it. I did like its geography quiz, back in the day.

Apparently bobbit, the subtlety of the English language is lost on you, so allow me to enrich you:

When a sentence is followed by a question mark, it implies a hypothetical scenario (or a question obviously), in this case the hypothetical scenario that Encarta has been killed off and Wikipedia may be to blame. Seems kinda different to an accusation.

Again, everyone has a bias, or bios if he/she is online. Fact: Microsoft have ended their interest in their Encarta project. Fact: many people these days turn to the web and Wikipedia for their knowledge source. Possible connection: the latter fact may have something to do with the former.

Just because Microsoft have not spelt it out in such terms does not mean we are not free to speculate.

Magallanes said,
Is a shame, since Encarta while incomplete, was a good source of material.

+1. I liked it a lot more then that crap bitantinana or what ever it is. te copy cat

It was inevitable.

I liked Encarta, it was waay better than britannica(though i liked the analyst feature, but it was way back in time).
The Math Tool was awwesomme(and still is).

Btw, M$ has changed a lot these days, they are not as vampiric now.
All of them are same, Even Google's no less.

I think you need a new keybaord, your 'S' has a line through the middle. Perhaps you need more practice on your keyboarding skills

Chris-Gonzales said,
+1. I liked it a lot more then that crap bitantinana or what ever it is. te copy cat

LMAO Encyclopedia Britannica was first published in 1768!