Microsoft Encarta

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Microsoft Encarta

Encarta logo
Basic data

developer Microsoft
Current  version Encarta Premium
operating system Microsoft Windows
category encyclopedia
License Proprietary
German speaking Yes
Others Development stoppedTemplate: Infobox software / maintenance / other
Encarta '95 in a CD caddy

Encarta was the name of an electronic, multimedia encyclopedia that was published by Microsoft from 1993 to 2009. It was available on CD-ROM and DVD as well as with limited access on the World Wide Web . The CD / DVD edition was reprinted annually and was partially updated via the Internet. There were 50,000 articles with a total of almost 20 million words; printed out, this should correspond to a twenty-volume lexicon . Many articles were based on those of the former Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia and Collier's Encyclopedia , whose online rights Microsoft had acquired in 1998. After all longer articles, the names and sometimes the qualifications of the authors were listed. 2009 Microsoft discontinued all Encarta offers.

Encarta appeared worldwide in different language versions; the contents were edited by local editorial offices and differed in their priorities and assessments. For example, the Dutch version contained texts from the Winkler-Prins encyclopedia, while Encarta Africana focused on Afro-American culture.


After the encyclopedia had initially been developed under the code name Gandalf , Microsoft had the name Encarta created by order of an advertising agency.

German edition of the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia

The German-language edition appeared in three versions:

  • Professional - the most extensive variant; over 50,000 articles with around 19 million words (2004 edition), the most extensive additions to multimedia elements and a detailed atlas; in the 2002 edition, the professional version had 16.5 million words
  • Standard - slimmed down version with a reduced text base (around 37,300 articles in the 2001 edition; between 20% and 50% less text), fewer multimedia elements and a very simple atlas
  • Update - discounted upgrade for owners of a previous version
  • Plus - full text base (13.9 million words in the 2001 edition), fewer multimedia elements, no atlas; discontinued with the 2002 edition.

A distinction was also made between CD and DVD variants. The Professional version on 4 CDs or 1 DVD cost around € 120, from 2004 it was around € 90. The standard version was part of the Microsoft Works Suite until the 2006 edition.

From the 2003 edition, a bilingual English dictionary was integrated that was licensed by Langenscheidt .

For the 2004 edition, 31 videos from the Discovery Channel in the fields of biology and science have been licensed.

In the 2005 version, a children's lexicon, Encarta Kids , was integrated with over 500 articles. The CD version consisted of two ( standard version) or four CDs ( professional version):

  • CD 1 contained the installation routine, the software and the text base. It could be used independently.
  • CD 2 contained multimedia elements such as larger images, videos, animations, sound documents and 360 ° rotating Quicktime panoramas.
  • CD 3 and 4 contained further multimedia elements: over 25,000 media elements, including 20,500 images, 300 videos and animations, around 2,750 music / audio clips, 2,000 diagrams and tables and over 5,600 web links.

Encarta 2007 was released without a Plus or Professional version. Encarta 2007 was the same as the professional version of its predecessor. The normal version was given the suffix Standard .

In mid-2008, the German Encarta editorial team was dissolved after thirteen years.

In the spring of 2009, Microsoft announced that Encarta would be discontinued later in the year because the number of views had decreased immensely. This was due to the strong expansion of Wikipedia. Software sales should end by June. On October 31, 2009, the online version in all languages ​​except Japanese was shut down. The shutdown of the Japanese version followed at the turn of the year 2009. The Encarta Premium 2009 version was the last commercially available version.

Encarta World Atlas

The Encarta World Atlas was discontinued as a separate product with the 2001 edition and was then only available together with Encarta Professional . It recorded 1.8 million locations and offered zoomable maps with additional information such as a country dictionary and statistics .


Other additions were a so-called research planner , a diagram assistant , the learning studio , from the 2004 edition the knowledge compass (an equivalent to the knowledge network of Brockhaus) - according to c't (test in issue 13/2003) however a “ gimmick no utility ”- as well as Englishtown , a program of online English courses. In addition, Encarta 2007 offered a kind of equation calculator in the special learning-and-knowledge version, with which one could quickly and easily solve mathematical equations.

Encarta Online

The online edition of Encarta was integrated into Microsoft's MSN portal and accessible via However, the text base was lower than the CD-ROM edition and was most recently at around 47,000 available articles. The online version was switched off in October 2009.

Encarta feedback

In the spring of 2005, Microsoft began expanding the feedback functions for the texts on the MSN beta pages . Readers were asked to make suggestions for additions or corrections. Media reports speculated about an inspiration from Wikipedia .

See also


  • Thomas J. Schult: early start. 2004 starts now - with Microsoft Encarta (current, look up), in: c't 13/03, p. 61
  • Thomas J. Schult: Encarta Enzyklopädie Professional 2003 (CD-ROM criticism, reference), in: c't 19/02, p. 216
  • Thomas J. Schult: On the wire. Free encyclopedias on the WWW (test bench, look up online), in: c't 9/02, p. 160.
  • Thomas J. Schult: Low-cost knowledge network. Multimedia encyclopedias for Windows and Mac (test bench, reference), in: c't 24/01, p. 144.
  • Thomas Schult: All knowledge. Multimedia Encyclopedias: What Do CD-ROMs And DVDs Offer? (Test stand, look up), in: c't 1/00, p. 76.
  • Thomas Schult: Knowledge networked. Multimedia encyclopedias on CD-ROM and DVD (test bench, reference), in: c't 23/00, p. 168.
  • Michael Kurzidim: Microsoft's Encarta Africana (CD-ROM review), in: c't 8/99, p. 236.
  • Thomas Schult: Brockhaus or Silberling. Multimedia Encyclopedias: Better Than 24 Volumes? (Test stand, reference works), in: c't 2/99, p. 88 (see also c't 4/99, p. 11).
  • Thomas Schult: Der Brockhaus multimedial, Encarta 99 (CD-ROM criticism, encyclopedias), in: c't 21/98, p. 316.
  • Thomas Schult: Sliced ​​ham. Multimedia encyclopedias: better than Brockhaus? (Test stand, reference works), in: c't 3/98, p. 96 (see also c't 4/98, p. 11).
  • Thomas Müller & Hansjoerg Neth: Lookup. Multimedia encyclopedias in a new version (test stand, encyclopedias), in: c't 1/97, p. 140 (see also c't 2/97, p. 11).
  • Thomas Müller & Hansjörg Neth: Knowledge. Multimedia encyclopaedias on CD-ROM (test bench, encyclopedias), in: c't 9/96, p. 254.
  • Volker Weber: Electronic reference works on CD-ROM (report), in: c't 12/94, p. 190.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Murad Ahmed: Microsoft accepts defeat to Wikipedia and kills off Encarta on Times Online from March 31, 2009
  2. Interview with Jon Kertzer, director of Smithsonian Global Sound, for the Smithsonian Center for Folk Life and Cultural Heritage. . Archived from the original on March 4, 2004. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  3. ^ Chronology of personal computers . Retrieved August 24, 2009.
  4. Chris Smith blog post at . Retrieved August 24, 2009.
  5. ^ Noam Cohen: Patrick, Graphic design intern on Version 1.0 of Encarta . In: The New York Times , March 30, 2009. Retrieved August 24, 2009. 
  6. Harvard Business School Case Study 'Blown to Bits'.
  7. Encarta 2005: Multimedia lexicon is cheaper ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , August 10, 2004 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. Goethe-Institut: Kluge Klicks - German knowledge portals on the Internet ( Memento from June 2, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  9. Digital Lexicon: Microsoft buries Encarta . In: Spiegel Online . March 31, 2009 ( [accessed May 17, 2018]).
  10. Emil Protalinski: Microsoft to kill Encarta later this year Microsoft: News (Ars Technica) March 30, 2009.
  11. Important Notice: MSN Encarta to be Discontinued. ( Memento from October 31, 2009 on WebCite ) Microsoft, 2009.