View Full Version : Microsoft accepts defeat to Wikipedia and kills off Encarta

March 31st, 2009, 06:55 PM
Microsoft has announced it will kill off Encarta, its encyclopaedia software and website, later this year, which has crumbled in the face of competition from Wikipedia, the leading encyclopaedia on the web.

After nearly 15 years since it arrived on shelves, Microsoft announced on its website that Encarta will stop being available by the end of the year in most places worldwide.

The company said: “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. Additionally, Microsoft will cease to sell Microsoft Student and Encarta Premium software products worldwide by June 2009”

The move is a tacit acceptance that Microsoft could no longer compete with the overwhelming popularity of Wikipedia, the free online website that launched in 2001. In January, Wikipedia got 97 per cent of the visits that web users in the US made to online encyclopaedias, according to Hitwise, the internet tracking company. Encarta trailed in second, with 1.27 per cent.

Wikipedia is updated quickly by editors who volunteer their time, allowing it to record events fast. By this morning, the entry on Encarta already stated that it was to be discontinued.

Meanwhile, Encarta articles would be quickly left embarrassingly outdated. The entry on Hillary Clinton still refers to her as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential election, months on from the end of her campaign.

Without making explicit reference to Wikipedia, Microsoft explained on its decision on its website. “The category of traditional encyclopaedias and reference material has changed,” it said. “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.”

Encarta was a pet project for Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who was rebuffed in the late 1980s by Encyclopaedia Britannica as a partner to make reference articles available through a CD-ROM.

Mr Gates believed he could change the encyclopaedia business, and eventually signed up with the lesser known Funk & Wagnalls reference books. However, though Encarta successfully shook up the market, Wikipedia better exploited it many years later.


Mr. Picklesworth
March 31st, 2009, 07:45 PM
I always kind of liked Encarta's interactive multimedia stuff. Lots of videos and little games to help explain stuff, making it awesome for learning. Hopefully Wikipedia will get something like it, some day...

Tom Mann
March 31st, 2009, 07:47 PM
I've seen a lot of stuff like this... Is it true or an Australian April 1st joke?

March 31st, 2009, 07:48 PM
It's in a British paper.

Erik Trybom
March 31st, 2009, 08:17 PM
That's kind of sad. I liked Encarta, it had lots of multimedia integration that Wikipedia still lacks.

It suddenly dawned on me that I will probably never buy an encyclopedia for my own home. I remember my parents' house and the school library where the volumes were lined up like a huge treasure of knowledge. Now all that knowledge, and a hundred times more, is available with just a short search query. The Internet is like the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook, all the information in the world condensed to a tiny package.

All this is of course immensely cool, but I can't help missing the printed encyclopediae.

March 31st, 2009, 08:40 PM
Encarta was one of the highlights for me when using Microsoft applications - it will be missed. It's accuracy was pretty good too, unlike Wikipedia which sometimes needs verifying.

March 31st, 2009, 09:24 PM
They should at least archive the site. There can never be enough knowledge on the Internet. Then again I haven't used Encarta since first grade(I think)...

March 31st, 2009, 10:18 PM
I still have an Encarta CD somewhere. Circa 98 or something, but the media on it, aforementioned, fantastic.

March 31st, 2009, 10:22 PM
Thanks for the memory jogger.
I haven't used Encarta for a while, but like the multimedia stuff that comes with the 2005 version that was preinstalled on one of my machines. I'll be digging deep through my CD collection for an old version for my old machine....

March 31st, 2009, 10:36 PM
My Encarta Pocket Dictionary was once a valuable resource...

Mr. Picklesworth
April 1st, 2009, 03:41 AM
Microsoft could be really awesome here and re-license Encarta to be moved into Wikipedia. I would completely forgive them for Internet Explorer 6 if they did that :)

April 1st, 2009, 05:03 AM
someone mentioned that they should at least keep the site up as a charity, not as a service, as like lots of people said, the media on it was pretty good.

April 1st, 2009, 05:34 AM
I had forgotten about the existence of Encarta. I only used the web edition like two times in my life.

I wonder why people judge Wikipedia to be unreliable when it has been proven otherwise:

Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica (http://news.cnet.com/Study-Wikipedia-as-accurate-as-Britannica/2100-1038_3-5997332.html)

Wikipedia, Britannica: A Toss-Up (http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2005/12/69844)

April 1st, 2009, 06:05 AM
My Encarta Pocket Dictionary was once a valuable resource...

Now to be replaced by Amazon's Kindle. :p

Giant Speck
April 1st, 2009, 06:47 AM
Now to be replaced by Amazon's Kindle. :p

Or the iPhone. :)