The Encarta encyclopedia contained more than 50,000 articles, timelines, atlases, music clips, and a wide array of photos and illustrations among other content. The multimedia encyclopedia also consisted of homework tools and videos on CDs, DVDs and the World Wide Web.
Microsoft launched Encarta encyclopedia in 1993 as a digital multimedia encyclopedia that came bundled with Windows-based computers. Initially available on CDs and DVDs, Encarta was a digital version of a traditional encyclopedia and utilized high-quality graphics and sounds to enhance the reading and listening experiences of Windows users.
Encarta focused on multimedia content more than text-based information. It provided thousands of photographs and digitized content and hours of sound clips that were not freely available on other online encyclopedias. The user interface allowed users to view images, videos and animations with an option to display alternative text-based information, including journals and essays supportive of the content. Its homework tools included literary guides, book summaries and foreign translation dictionaries.
In 2000, Microsoft launched a free version of the encyclopedia that contained about half of the content of the full version. Online users could access the full content by purchasing Encarta on CD or DVD. It later became available on the World Wide Web on a subscription basis. Microsoft discontinued Encarta encyclopedia in 2009 after succumbing to other online competitors.