Microsoft is discontinuing its MSN Encarta encyclopedia software and services over the course of this year, as Ars Technica is reporting.
From the Microsoft Web site:
"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."
Microsoft attributed the Encarta closing to changing user preferences. From the FAQ:
"(T)he category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past."
The site doesn't mention the fact that Microsoft has been reorganizing and rethinking the mission and strategy of its MSN team for the past several months. The company has been killing off various products and business units as part of its overall belt tightening for the past few months, as well.
Will anyone be shedding any tears over Encarta's phase-out?