Before Wikipedia finished off the encyclopedia as we knew it, Microsoft’s Encarta started the venerable multi-volume reference works on their long path to oblivion. So it is somehow fitting that because “people today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past”—that is, they turn to Wikipedia— Microsoft announced today that it is killing off the MSN Encarta Web site effective Oct. 31 (the Japanese version will linger under the end of the year}.
Encarta began life (of course, I turned to Wikipedia for this history) in 1993 as a multimedia CD-ROM--remember those--based largely on the Funk & Wagnall's Encylopedia, to which Microsoft had purchased the rights. Over time, it morphed into a Web-based product, with both free and premium version. Microsoft said premium subscribers would receive a pro-rated rebate for any unusable part of their subscriptions.