Microsoft is closing down Encarta, its paid-for online encyclopedia. It now holds such a small market share, 1.27% according to The Register, that it is no longer viable.
I imagine few tears will be shed. It is worth noting though that this really does represent the passing of an era. Not “the Encarta era” but the era represented by the likes of Encycopedia Brittanica of which Encarta was just one of the last in the line.
In its time Encarta represented a big change in the market. Up until then Encyclopedia Brittanica was sold mostly by door to door salesmen and came in around 30 large bound volumes. As a kid I would have loved to have had a set but it was also impractically expensive for my parents. I imagine that salesman only needed one sale to live off for a week.
The word encyclopedia will probably now disappear into the history books having been replaced by wikipedia.