Home > Reference > Encarta has 2 months to live

Encarta has 2 months to live


The Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, published since 1993, will be discontinued on October 31, along with the online version.

Sure, I rarely use Encarta, but it will still be hard to see it go. However, my computer came with a free 1-year trial of the Encarta Plus software, which I assume will still work for the entire year, but will only be updated for the next 2 months. After that, I’ll probably use my desktop version of Britannica for offline reference.

But lets look on the bright side: We’ll still have all of these reference sources online:

  • Wikipedia
  • Infoplease
  • CultureGrams
  • Britannica
  • Reference.com
  • HowStuffWorks
  • Bartleby

…and more (you can search an extensive list at one of our sister sites, ReferenceSearch).

So who killed Encarta? Although Microsoft avoided admitting it, Wikipedia. From their website:

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.

“However, the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed” most likely means that more people are going to user-generated (wiki-based) reference sources. And what is the most popular wiki-based source, as well as the most popular reference source overall? Wikipedia, which despite criticism, is amazingly pretty reliable (I would honestly trust a Wikipedia page on a major topic more than a book on it). Last month, Wikipedia received nearly 63 million unique visitors. And this is in the summer, when Wikipedia’s relative traffic decreases significantly (showing how many students use it).

So long, Encarta. I’m going to finally activate my Encarta Plus account, although I’ll probably have to get a Windows Live ID and email address which I’ll never use.

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