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Another Part of Microsoft Dies: Encarta

Posted in Microsoft at 4:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another day, another dead Microsoft product/service


Summary: MSN Encarta is axed by Microsoft

SOME WHILE ago it was adCenter Analytics and this time it’s MSN Encarta which goes right into the Microsoft Graveyard. As a debt-saddled [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] company-to-be (or not to be), they simply have no choice. From Microsoft’s own mouth:

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. We understand that Encarta users may have questions regarding this announcement so we have prepared this list of questions and answers below. Please keep reading if you would like more information about these changes to Encarta.

Joe credits the destruction of this biased ‘encyclopedia’ to the rise of the GFDL-compatible Wikipedia, thus symbolising the triumph of Freedom of knowledge.

The decision to cut Encarta also comes as Microsoft looks to cut costs. The company has discontinued several products this year, including its Train Simulator game. The news was first reported by Ars Technica.

Britannica is already trying to imitate the Wikipedia model; they too realise that their business model is becoming obsolete, so they could become the next victim.

The revolution won’t be televised. It will be covered by the people… in Wikipedia. Freedom did have clear competitors in the past.

“It’s a good thing we have museums to document that.”

Bill Gates

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  1. twitter said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:34 am


    Traditional newspapers are rushing after this story but getting it all wrong. They dig up some interesting traffic stats but their perspective is grounded in the past and they are too terrified to “connect the dots” and see the publication revolution that’s clear to free software advocates. Some mention M$’s financial troubles but most articles are stuck in the world of paper.

    The New York Times did a little research to deliver some interesting traffic statistics,

    In January, Wikipedia got 97 percent of the visits that Web surfers in the United States made to online encyclopedias, according to the Internet ratings service Hitwise. Encarta was second, with 1.27 percent. Unlike Wikipedia, where volunteer editors quickly update popular entries, Encarta can be embarrassingly outdated.

    That’s from the usual source of flawed web statistics, but it’s nice the NYT bothered to look.

    The Christian Science Monitor tries to “connect the dots” between encyclopedia and newspaper business models. They noted that paper encyclopedias used to cost $1,000 or so but did not mention that Wikipedia has an interesting and growing news section.

    The Wall Street Journal, which resisted online publication with all of it’s fancy font might until it became another division of Fox News, does a nice job of looking back. They quickly summarized the history of Encarta and Wikipedia and actually tried to interview people from those places and Britanica. M$ declined to answer any useful questions, Wales said, “We’re not in a business where we’re trying to put anyone out of business,” and Britanica admitted to having their ass kicked by Encarta in the 90s.

    None of these organizations understand the nature of electronic publishing. Some come close and talk about push vrs. pull or reduced costs and how well collaborative efforts seem to work. The whole thing remains frightening and unreliable black magic to them. Tom Wolf once famously derided his peers as “Little Mummies” but it’s beyond that now. They are like Neanderthals rejecting cooked meat because they fear fire. The usual nonsense about vandalism is repeated, sometimes from vandalized Wikipedia articles, but the larger message of freedom is lost on them. I imagine them typing these articles with great difficulty on their Macs or Windows PCs, completely ignorant of the larger revolution that powers Wikipedia and their more enlightened peers. “Who needs more when you are happy with what you have got?” ask the heavy toothed monsters in their filthy caves even as chunks of their world collapse on them, “Beware fire and light, they will hurt you!”

  2. David Gerard said,

    March 31, 2009 at 2:35 pm


    We’re already asking Microsoft about freeing what they can for Wikipedia’s use. And if they do, we will say lots of nice things about them. We’ve had some major successes freeing up image repositories of late. A lot of their content is licensed, but apparently they do have clear ownership of quite a bit.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Microsoft is busy killing access to knowledge at the moment.

    Jose_X Reply:

    This comment http://boycottnovell.com/2009/03/31/encarta-dies/#comment-61327 belongs on this thread and should be fixed as follows:

    “touch” should have been “tush” [slang definition tush(3) here http://www.answers.com/tush ]

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I remember Microsoft cursing Wikipedia just over a year ago. it was not a ‘formal’ statement, though.

    And let’s not forget Waggener Edstrom.

  3. Jose_X said,

    March 31, 2009 at 3:08 pm


    >> And if they do, we will say lots of nice things about them.

    Lying and touch-glossing should not be endorsed.

  4. David Gerard said,

    March 31, 2009 at 3:45 pm


    Interesting story – I’d never heard that Windows 2000 was literally unbuildable after the permatemp apocalypse.

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