Microsoft to discontinue Encarta encyclopedia

Tip a cap, tip out a beverage, tiptoe to your CD-ROM shelf and pay your respects: Microsoft has announced that its venerable Encarta encyclopedia is to be discontinued later this year. First released to great acclaim in 1993, the shiny reference guide fell victim to the march of time, the explosive growth of the Web... and, yes, possibly to Wikipedia and its ilk.

Sixteen years isn't a terrible run for a non-headlining product, though, and Microsoft's announcement was sanguine about Encarta's legacy. "Microsoft's vision is that everyone around the world needs to have access to quality education," reads the statement announcing the change, "and we believe that we can use what we've learned and assets we've accrued with offerings like Encarta to develop future technology solutions." As for the editorial vision guiding the product -- the main Encarta page on microsoft.com boasts that its 60,000-plus articles were written by actual experts, "in contrast to many web encyclopedias" -- well, you've got until October 31, 2009 to enjoy it. Go.

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