Microsoft has quietly confirmed that it's getting out of the encyclopaedia business, ending its long-standing Encarta product.
As noted by Ars Technica, the software maker says it will discontinue all its online Encarta products by October, with the exception of Encarta Japan, which will run until the end of the year. It will also stop selling Microsoft Student and Encarta Premium, paid software products that included the online encyclopaedia.
In a posting on its Web site, Microsoft said that the move reflected the change in the way people use reference material. It didn't mention Wikipedia by name, but we all know it's the biggest change to encyclopaedias in recent memory.
"Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years," Microsoft said. "However, the category of traditional encyclopaedias 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."
The move is one of a relative handful of products that Microsoft has discontinued in the wake of expense cuts implemented in January, cuts that included the company's first across-the-board redundancies.
Microsoft has been publishing Encarta, in various forms, for more than a decade. It has also scooped up various print encyclopaedias along the way, according to Wikipedia (Crave loves irony). While the original Encarta was based on Funk & Wagnalls, Microsoft later bought Collier's Encyclopedia and New Merit Scholar's Encyclopedia and incorporated those two products into Encarta, again according to Wikipedia.