Microsoft has announced that it is discontinuing its Encarta line of products. The software products will be gone by June 2009 and the website will go down October 31, 2009.
When I first saw this, I had to do a double take. I made sure it wasn't April 1 at least three times before I conceded. While looking around Encarta's homepage today, I stumbled on a message that Microsoft was getting rid of MSN Encarta completely: "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." Looks like employees at Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica will be throwing parties tonight.
This is all on the FAQ page because Microsoft wants to clarify why it is doing this. The software giant says that the "category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed" and that "people today seek and consume information in considerably different ways." It doesn't go into more detail, e.g., lack of sales or Wikipedia's tremendous growth. The company, however, does mention that it will "develop future technology solutions" but doesn't say anything beyond that. For those users with Encarta on MSN Explorer, the October 31 kill date still applies.