John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Wait…Encarta Is STILL Around?!?

“The Internet is a great phenomena. I don’t see how the emergence of more information content on a network can be a bad thing for the personal computer industry. Will it cause less personal computers to sell? I think quite the opposite. Less copies of Flight Simulator or Encarta?”

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, 1994

In January, Wikipedia claimed nearly 97 percent of the visits that Web surfers in the United States made to online encyclopedias, according to research outfit Hitwise. MSN Encarta received 1.27 percent. Little wonder, then, that Microsoft (MSFT) is discontinuing it. The company announced Monday that it would stop selling Encarta software by June and would shut down the encyclopedia’s MSN Web sites on Oct. 31. “Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years,” Microsoft said in a statement. 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.”

Translation: Wikipedia ate our lunch–and our breakfast and dinner too. For evidence, one need look no further than Wikipedia itself, which updated its Encarta entry with the following passage within an hour of Microsoft’s announcement.

“Microsoft announced in March 2009 that they will cease to sell Microsoft Student and all editions of Encarta Premium software products worldwide by June 2009, citing changes in the way people seek information and in the traditional encyclopedia and reference material market as the key reasons behind the termination….Additionally, MSN Encarta web sites will be discontinued by October 31, 2009, with the exception of Encarta Japan which will be discontinued on December 31, 2009.”