Microsoft has announced that they will be discontinuing the MSN Encarta. No, this isn't another silly renaming of a product to Windows Live Encarta or anything like that, the product is really being discontinued.
According to the FAQ page, Microsoft will cease selling the software version in June 2009 and the web versions will be discontinued on October 31, 2009. The only exception is Encarta Japan which will remain around for a couple of more months before getting the ax at the end of December. Microsoft says the websites will no longer be available after these dates.
The only explanation Microsoft offers on the decision is as follows:
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.