back to article Microsoft kills MSN Encarta

Microsoft is pulling the plug on its MSN Encarta encyclopedia websites and software, following Wikipedia's obliteration of the online reference market. In a message posted on the MSN Encarta website, Microsoft said the sites worldwide will be discontinued on October 31, with the exception of Encarta Japan, which will be stayed …


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  1. Gary F

    Woah, hang on a minute

    Encarta contains carefully researched factual material whereas Wikipedia contains material that individuals *think* is factual.

    Perhaps Microsoft could offer their database to Wikipedia for free so a dual explanation can be displayed on the same page? Then it will give the public a choice of which facts to absorb.

    I'm not saying everything on Wikipedia is inaccurate, but you don't know which bits are without double checking with another source... which could be Encarta.

  2. Martin Owens


    Take that you no good, no commons, privateers! ;-)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    A long time coming

    Why it wasn't put out of its misery years ago I'll never know

  4. Tom Silver badge

    Is this one up for Open Source

    or is it a serious change of tack by MS from

    developing 'future locked in revenue streams' to developing "future technology solutions."

    Which would be nice!

  5. Jon

    What next?

    "The software maker has been busy axing its less appreciated departments in recent months"

    In that case, it's operating system department can't have long to go.

  6. Gary
    Thumb Up

    Internet paves the way for free material!

    People are beginning to move towards free alternatives. Who knows, the next version of Windows (after 7) might even be free!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Another MS success (not)

    Outside of their OS and Office monopoly they are crap and cannot come up with dick.

    Ballmer get your coat, YOU ARE FIRED !

  8. Mark Edwards
    Gates Horns

    'Tis a shame though

    Wikipedia, useful resource though it is, suffers from the problem that it's articles are not necessarily properly researched and cited.

    Its a worry that a proper reference encyclopaedia (can I use that phrase when it comes to Encarta?) feels it needs to be killed off in deference to the Wikifiddlers.

    /evil Bill becase we don't have an evil Ballmer...

  9. Joe K

    Thats a blast from the past

    I remember the fanfare of Encarta launching in the late 90's, didn't know it was still going to be honest.

    And lolz at's stats, i wonder how much they paid for that URL. Just going to show that the domain name is almost useless compared to content. Unless you're, obviously.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


  11. Jay
    Gates Horns

    How much info can you put on a CD?

    I recall having something like Encata 95 on CD when I purchased a PC around 1995. Though I had no idea there was an online version in more recent times.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    End of a trend

    Encarta was crap but free; Wikipedia is garbage but free. Presumably the next step is to actually wipe parts of the user's brain for free.

    Kids really need to be taught in school that reading someing on a big blog does not mean that it's true. Even if it's a really, REALLY big blog.

    Actually, at least a blog usually has some track record you can look at to get a feel for what the writer's prejudices and areas of knowledge are. With WP one simply has to guess which wind of fashion is currently blowig across any given page at any given moment, so in some way's it's actually much less useful than just reading some random blog.

  13. Simon Painter

    Google it

    Could this be in part because any search string you type into google seems to come back with at least one top ten wikipedophile link?

    Still no googlegood/googleevil icons.

  14. VulcanV5

    dumber and dumber

    Although this thread has some predictable nonsense from posters who dismiss Encarta as 'crap' because they heard someone else say so, Encarta was always subject to a degree of academic rigour wholly absent from Wikipedia.

    That there's no place for Encarta any more says all there is to say about a worldwide dumbing down that's especially noticeable here in the UK, where the former head of OFSTED believes school children ought to have lessons in Wikipedia.

    Seeing as how it's school kids who seem responsible for much of the inaccurate content on Wikipedia, why a British educator should think the thing is worthy of a place in the curriculum escapes me.

    * Whoops, corrections to the above: should've read 'edjukater' and 'kurickulumm'.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia isn't an encyclopedia

    It's a bag o' links and a load of hot air and ego. A proper encyclopedia acts as a source. Wikipedia requires you to CITE a source. It's really just an aggregator of popular opinion, individual egos and internet websites.

    If someone can please develop a plugin which removes Wikipedia from search engine results, I will happily pay them for it. I'm sick of seeing results poisoned with that shit.

  16. George
    Gates Halo

    I agree with others

    Wikipedia has killed this but doesn't make it right.

    Surely a revenue model could be found for the right kind of respected encyclopedia, Wikipedia is dangerously untrue sometimes, not dangerous as in reading it may cause harm but more crap knowledge is worse and no knowledge.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Wikipedia is crap

    Anyone using it for reports, research etc need to be shot. At best it is a launch point for some proper research.

    It is barely passable with facts that are easily verifiable elsewhere, and utterly less for any topic where there may be debate or dissension. In the Wiki World, the over-ruling Wiki-mind will prevail, no matter how wrong it may be.

  18. Toastan Buttar


    Encyclopedias, online or dead trees, have only ever been much use as a starting point for research. It'll give you an overview of a topic and hopefully a list of references and key words that you can use to seed further personal research. Any glaring inaccuracies in an encyclopedia article, which links to more authoritative references, will soon become apparent.

    For these reasons, Wikipedia is every bit as good as Encarta and Britannica. By using Google and Wiki as a springboard, and by applying a little creative and critical thought, you can write a passable original report on pretty much any subject.

    It's no wonder the paid-for ones are going down the pan.

  19. Chris Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @t'other Chris

    Not a plugin so I don't expect payment for it, but simply adding "-wikipedia" to your search terms (in Google at least) should sanitise the results nicely...

  20. Sean Baggaley

    Encarta's World English Dictionary... produced in the UK by Bloomsbury Plc. It's one of the few printed dictionaries I own and it really is rather good. (Excellent layout too.)

    Encarta suffered from never having a reputation as good as, say, Britannica's.

    Wikipedia has two problems, not one.

    The first is its lack of authorial transparency and responsibility. (There are alternatives which do a better job of this. Google's "Knol" is but the most recent example.)

    The second is that Wikipedia's very popularity is clearly at the expense of second-sourcing. Nobody, but nobody, seems to bother checking anything *other* than Wikipedia for information. This is wrong and students should be taught from an early age to ALWAYS double-check important information. Find a second, independent, source. Use it to corroborate (or disprove) the first. If your two sources contradict each other, find a third... and so on. This is basic research, not rocket science.

    That Wikipedia accounts for so much of the online encyclopaedia audience is a testament to just how few people know how to second-source.

  21. Edward Miles
    Gates Horns



    No more MindMaze :(

    For those who don't know, encarta (certainly the old edition I had) came with a fun little general knowledge game where you had to navigate an ancient castle answering questions. And now it's dead.

    Anyone know where I can get it from?

  22. N

    Vista next...

    I diddnt realise Encarta was still going, perhaps they will get rid of some real crap next & toss out Vista & its successor.

  23. IGnatius T Foobar
    Thumb Down

    Wikipedia == groupthink

    While I simply cannot mourn the death of a Microsoft product, I can't say that I'm happy about Wikipedia holding this particular throne. Wikipedia is a horrific mixture of groupthink and lobbyism. It can't be trusted for accuracy.

  24. Dave P

    School course

    First lesson in class: Never trust Wackypedia, always search elsewhere for the truth.

    Second lesson: Don't plagarize Wackypedia, you will get a big fat "0" when the teacher does a compare.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It would have to be free for me to use it and even then I would wait for reviews.

  26. Jolyon Smith

    Hold on a minute....

    Whilst I largely agree that Wikipedia doesn't have the same respectable standing as Britannica or perhaps even Encarta, I think it is going a little too far to dismiss it because of the way it's content is produced and moderated.

    Neither Britannica nor Encarta had a monopoly on facts.

    When those volumes were/are compiled, someone had to gather information. Someone had to presumably confirm that information. Someone had to edit the content and ensure it was presentable.

    The only difference between those and Wikipedia is that with Wikipedia there is a far larger body of "Someone"s available to do that work. In some cases that may mean that the work doesn't get done as well, but I think in the majority of cases, especially relating to the pop-culture entries, it does a job that Britannica and Encarta never even set out to do.

    I wouldn't rely on Wikipedia as a source of information about Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, but when I'm interested in the story behind the Lynrd Skynrd song "Sweet Home Alabama", the career and output of Snow Patrol, or a precise of the plot and the key events in different series of some stupid TV show that everyone seems to think is great but which I just don't "get" (looking at you: Lost) to try and figure out what I'm missing, etc etc Wikipedia is tough to beat and pretty reliable.

    And if even not entirely accurate, who cares? Really?

  27. Stuart Duel

    It's all good....

    Wikipedia, Encarta, World-book, et-cetera are all valuable resources for finding answers and facts.


    As an individual YOU are not displaying the required intellectual rigour if YOU don't then go and check alternative sources to collaborate or contradict those answers and facts, sending you on an expanded but worthwhile journey in search of truth.

    Any source could be biased or erroneous. Don't place absolute blind faith in any one of them.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Don't know about the US of A, but...

    In the UK, just enrol in a public library, You can then access Britannica, OED, DNB etc etc. No probs, Kev.

  29. Chris
    IT Angle


    MSN Encarta has no virtually mention of linux...? a search for Steve Ballmer can only musted a Live Search link to the Wikipedia page. No mentions of chairs. They are in denial at Redmond.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia Kills Encarta. Is Britannica Next?

    Wikipedia, with a 97% share of the online encyclopedia market, has forced Microsoft to shut down Encarta. How long will it be before Wikipedia claims the prize scalp of Encyclopaedia Britannica?

    Encyclopaedia Britannica did not think that an open source product like Wikipedia would significantly challenge the credibility of its brand. They were dead wrong and Encyclopaedia Britannica's staff seriously misread the global market. They are now very concerned about the widespread use of a free Wikipedia vs their paid subscription model. From a corporate and financial perspective, Encyclopaedia Britannica is in significant trouble.

    It will be interesting to see if Encyclopaedia Britannica survives, but recent indications do not look good. It is the combination of a) the success of Wikipedia and b) improved search engines that has put financial pressure on Encyclopedia Britannica over recent years. Many libraries, schools & individuals are questioning the need to pay for sets of expensive books, or to subscribe to Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, when the content is free on the internet, and much more comprehensive.

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