Today’s news that Microsoft accepts defeat to Wikipedia and kills off Encarta, which I read in the on-line version of The Times, is quite sad. But it’s one data point in the huge shift we’re seeing from the older style printed material (and that includes CD/DVDs) to online only.
We’ve seen a number of newspapers stop publishing their print editions, and a magazine I wrote for (Server Management Magazine), I contributed for over 10 years, has also gone web only. Although Encarta was an on-line product too, the death of print media is continuing at a pretty frantic pace.
One could argue the battle was more about the content than online vs offline. For me at least, the content on Wikipedia is very good. Thinking back over the past year, when I needed information, I’ve tended to use Google and Wikipedia. In a few cases, I found Wikipedia entries wanting – so I added some content. Maybe if MS had opened Encarta up more, it’s popularity might have been higher.
As it turns out, Encarta was a very distant 2nd place to Wikipedia. With Wikipedia having 97% market share and Encara being second with 1.27% (and “print” not being significant0, the decision was only a matter of when, not whether.
So farewell Encarta.