News has arrived that Microsoft will be ending MSN Encarta, with the encyclopaedia project doomed by the rise of the likes of Wikipedia.

A note on the Encarta FAQ page was spotted by Ars Technica's Emil Protalinski which confirmed that the project would end after 16 years of cataloguing knowledge.

"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."

Wikipedia to blame?

The page also explains the reasons behind the end of Encarta stating: "Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years.

"However, the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past.

"As part of Microsoft's goal to deliver the most effective and engaging resources for today's consumer, it has made the decision to exit the Encarta business."

Funk & Wagnalls

Encarta was formed back in 1993, when the software company bought rights for the Funk & Wagnalls encyclopaedia as they looked to create a digital version.

The original target for Microsoft was the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, but its path was blocked when the publisher decided that the sale of digital rights would impact on print sales.

In truth, the rise of Wikipedia has made it very difficult for traditional encyclopaedias to manage in the digital realm, although the accuracy of a knowledge based entered by the community has often been questioned.

Via Ars Technica