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Microsoft to Close Down Encarta

March 30th, 2009 · No Comments · Internet & the Web

Microsoft has announced that it will be closing its Encarta encyclopedia service, effective October 31, 2009.

Over the years, Encarta evolved from a product on CDs, to an online Encyclopedia.

For me personally, the move is bittersweet.  I grew up with the hard-cover edition of Collier’s Encyclopedia (along with the annual “Yearbook” editions).  My parents bought it with the thought that I’d use it in my schoolwork – and they were right – I referred to it often in composing my school reports and projects.  The Collier’s books still proudly sit in my parent’s bookshelf, albeit a bit dusty and worn over the years.

You see, Microsoft bough the rights to Collier’s electronic version in 1998, and used the content for its Encarta product.  Since that time the hard cover editions ended.  So while I was saddened to see the hard copy editions go away, and though I’ve had issues with other Microsoft products, I was still heartened by the fact that the knowledge and information from Collier’s would live on, in a new multimedia form.  Progressing with the times, after all.

From Microsoft’s Encarta website:

Why are these Encarta Web sites and software products being discontinued?

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.

In other words, most people today are getting their information from Wikipedia.  As much as I like, respect, and use Wikipedia, I always use it with the knowledge that this is an online “encyclopedia” created and updated by millions of users, many of them who may have singular, revisionist, commercial, or otherwise unworthy agendas.

Now don’t get me wrong……..Collier’s wasn’t a bulletproof source of information either.  But the difference was that it simply had a higher “trust” factor.  You knew that an editorial team was trying to ensure that the facts were correct, and presented in a balanced and informative manner.  You can never achieve that level of “trust” in an online open source edition with so many contributors.

And so it goes.  Farewell Encarta.  Farewell Collier’s.

Another institution goes forth into the night……………………

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