Looks like Wikipedia has finally killed the encyclopedia. Microsoft has just announced that their are discontinuing the Encarta service. 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.
The Encarta FAQ page points to more details:
Why are these Encarta Web sites and software products being discontinued?
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.
Microsoft’s vision is that everyone around the world needs to have access to quality education, 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. In doing so, we feel strongly that we are making the right investments that will help make our vision a reality.
When are these Encarta Web sites and software products being discontinued?
MSN Encarta worldwide (except Japan) will be discontinued on October 31, 2009. MSN Encarta Japan will be discontinued on December 31, 2009. After these specified dates, the Web sites will no longer be available.
Microsoft Student and Encarta Premium software products are also being discontinued. Microsoft will stop making them available for sale by June 2009.