Goodbye, Microsoft Encarta

I’m generally no fan of Microsoft or its products, but I have to admit I have fond memories of the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia program and was unexpectedly saddened to hear that it is being discontinued. In the days before the Internet was as useful as it is today, Encarta—housed on compact disks—was a huge improvement over bound, physical encyclopedias (and quite a bit cheaper too). It was wonderful to be able to bring up long, informative articles about nearly any subject in seconds on your computer.

Of course, we take this kind of thing for granted now. Wikipedia has become a ubiquitous source of more information than Encarta could ever have pretended to provide. Microsoft tried to make Encarta relevant by taking it online, but ultimately its time passed and most of us nearly forgot it still existed. Most Encarta web sites will be going dark on October 31, and sales of the physical disks will cease some time in the summer.

Despite all my Microsoft hatin’, I have to give credit where credit is due. Encarta was among the first broadly available electronic encyclopedias, and was a real trailblazer in making information more readily accessible to the average person.

Scott Bradford has been putting his opinions on his website since 1995—before most people knew what a website was. He has been a professional web developer in the public- and private-sector for over twenty years. He is an independent constitutional conservative who believes in human rights and limited government, and a Catholic Christian whose beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. He loves Pink Floyd and can play the bass guitar . . . sort-of. He’s a husband, pet lover, amateur radio operator, and classic AMC/Jeep enthusiast.