Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Encarta is a digital multimedia encyclopedia published by Microsoft Corporation. An online version of English language Encarta is available free on the World Wide Web with limited content (4,500 articles); there is a monthly subscription for accessing all content and homework tools (68,000+ articles) as of 2005. A full English version is available for purchase on multiple CD-ROMs or a DVD-ROM. Some articles were originally based on those from the former Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia.
Microsoft publishes similar encyclopedias under the Encarta trademark in various languages, including German, French, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese. Localized versions may contain contents licensed from available national sources and may not contain the full English version contents. For example, the Dutch version has content from the Dutch Winkler Prins encyclopedia.
Its standard edition includes approximately 41,000 articles, with additional images, videos and sounds. Its larger editions contain appoximately 63,000 articles and other multimedia content, such as tours. Its articles are integrated with multimedia content and may have a collection of links to websites selected by its editors. A sidebar may display alternative views or original materials relevant to the topic.
Encarta's Visual Browser, available from 2005, presents a user with a list of related topics. Its multimedia includes virtual 3-dimensional tours of ancient structures, for example the Acropolis; 2-dimensional panoramic images of world wonders or cities; and a virtual flight program which moves the user over landscape.
The dynamic maps are generated with the same engine that powered Microsoft MapPoint software. The map is a virtual globe that one can freely rotate and magnify to any location down to major streets for big cities. The globe has multiple surfaces displaying political boundaries, physical landmarks, and statistical information. One can selectively display different sized cities, various geological or man-made features and reference lines in a map.
The maps contain hyperlinks to related articles ("Map Trek") and also supports a "Dynamic Sensor" that provides the latitude, longitude, placename, population and local time for any point on the globe. Encarta also generates a visible-light moon atlas with names of major craters and hyperlinks. However, it does not include a planetarium.
In addition to database generated maps, many other illustrative maps in Encarta ("Historical Maps") are drawn by artists. Some more advanced maps are interactive, for example, the large African map for Africana can display information such as political boundries or the distribution of African flora.
When Encarta was released as part of the "Reference Suite" in 1998 (though to 2000), Microsoft bundled "Microsoft Bookshelf" with the other three programs (Encarta Encyclopedia 98 Deluxe Edition, Encarta Virtual Globe 98, and Encarta Research Organizer). However, this was problematic.
Microsoft Bookshelf (Reference Edition) already contained "Encarta Desk Encyclopedia" and "Encarta Desk Atlas", thus becoming redundant with the full editions provided as part of the suite.
In later editions (Encarta Suite 2000 and onwards) Bookshelf was replaced with a dedicated Encarta Dictionary, a superset of the printed edition.
There has been some controversy over the decision, since the dictionary lacks the other books provided in Bookshelf which many found to be a useful reference, such as Columbia Dictionary of Quotations and an Internet Directory (although now a moot point since many of the sites listed in offline directories aren't around anymore)
Encarta made use of various Microsoft technologies. For example, the map engine is adapted from its MapPoint software. Unlike Microsoft Office, Encarta software only supports Microsoft Windows with Microsoft's Internet Explorer. However, an Apple Macintosh or Linux user with Internet connection may access Encarta's website.
Encarta is also notorious for drastically reducing the quality of images copied using the built-in image copy menu option and adding a copyright notice at the bottom, often covering up important details. A known work-around is use of the print-screen key and pasting into an image editing program.
Each summer, Microsoft will publish a new release of Encarta. However, despite the inclusion of some news-related articles, Encarta's contents have not been changed substantially in recent years. Besides the yearly update, the installed offline copy may be updated once or twice a month for one year to three years for free depending on the edition. When the update period expires, Encarta occasionally displays an update advertisement to its user.
User editing of Encarta
Starting in 2005 the online Encarta has started to allow users to edit articles. Articles are not automatically updated; user edits are instead submitted to Encarta's editors for review, copyediting, and approval.
Some detractors believe that some Encarta articles have been slow to be updated. For example, an early 2005 edition of the article about John Rawls, a famous political philosopher, opens with "Rawls, John (1921- )", although he died on November 24, 2002. Encarta seemed to have overlooked noting the date of his passing. As of April 2005, this problem had been fixed.
- Encarta online — with limited free access and features.
- Microsoft Encarta product
- History and some other information about Encarta by Microsoft
- The facts depend on where you are coming from An essay on the cultural problems of point of view problems in a encyclopedia. Author of the essay is unclear.
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