Microsoft revealed on Tuesday that it plans to shut down the Encarta online encyclopaedia.
A notice on the site says that Encarta will close on 31 October for most of the world. The Japanese version will continue until 31 December. Users who subscribed to premium features will have their accounts credited for fees paid beyond 30 April.
Microsoft will also cease distribution of the Encarta Student and Encarta Premium software by the end of June.
Encarta emerged in the early 1990s, and was one of the first encyclopaedias to be offered in electronic form on CD-Rom. The collection was later taken online, but has struggled in the face of Wikipedia and online news and history collections.
Microsoft said that the decision was based on an inevitable shift in the way people access information, making a hosted encyclopaedia format impractical.
"People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past," the company said.
"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."
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