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Microsoft axes Encarta as users snub service

Wikipedia popularity leads Microsoft to discontinue both Encarta reference websites and related software

Microsoft has decided to pull the plug on its Encarta reference websites and related software as it struggles to convince people that they need to pay for information.

The MSN Encarta websites worldwide will be discontinued by the end of October this year, with the exception of Encarta Japan, which will be pulled on December 31st.

In June, the company will also stop selling Microsoft Student and Encarta Premium products worlwide, which involved paid subscription packages. Customers that recently bought the software will be given a refund if necessary, with Microsoft promising to release updates to current versions through till the very end for older subscribers.

“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,” a message on the Encarta website states, referring to the popularity of free online encyclopaedic initiatives such as Wikipedia and Google Knol.

It’s not hard to see why. Google’s Knol has more than 100,000 articles while Wikipedia boasts a staggering 2.8 million articles in the Engish language alone – all of which can be accessed for free.

In comparison, Microsoft’s Encarta Premium software comes with around 62,000 articles, but at a price.

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