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article imageWikipedia popularity forces Microsoft to kill Encarta

By Kesavan Unnikrishnan     Mar 31, 2009 in Internet
Microsoft said it plans to discontinue its Encarta encyclopedia by the end of 2009. The move comes after the company secretly admitted it's unable to compete with Wikipedia.
Microsoft Encarta was a runaway hit in the late '80s and '90s when print encyclopedias were common. Encarta with photos and illustrations, music clips, videos, timelines, maps and atlas was a new experience for the pre-Internet era computer user.
But with the emergence of free online encyclopedias like Wikipedia, the amount of information available over the Internet grew exponentially.
Wikipedia is updated regularly by its volunteer editors while Encarta remains outdated in many articles related to current events. For example, the article on Joe Biden still puts him as vice president-elect months after his inauguration. A similar entry in Wikipedia is updated within minutes.
According to the latest statistics from Internet ratings service Hitwise, Wikipedia received over 97 per cent of the visitors searching for online encyclopedias. Encarta was far behind with only 1 per cent of the total visitors using it.
Microsoft said in an announcement that the Student and Encarta Premium versions will be removed from stores by June 2009. Encarta websites worldwide, except Encarta Japan, would be discontinued on October 31.It said:
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.
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