Saturday, August 09, 2008

Encarta: upgrade to get less?

Microsoft Encarta gives you less when you upgrade.
Year # articles # pictures # sound clips #animations
2005 68,000 25,000 2,800 400
2006 68,000 25,000 2,500 300
2007 66,000 26,000 3,000 300
2008 60,000 25,000 3,800 800 (incl. activities)
2009 62,000 ? ? ?

In using Student 2006 and Student 2009, less encyclopedic content is evident everywhere. The number of articles has been reduced by 6000. The number of media in articles were reduced. The video of the Return of Hong Kong was replaced by a picture, and the picture was listed under the video section. Excerpts from Chinese philosophical texts were removed. The number of virtual tours were reduced by half. The book summaries no longer have a list by title option. And the list can go on.

In the old days, when the storage capacity of the delivery media is a limiting factor (e.g. a CD holds 600M), some features are scaled back to make room for new features. An example was the removal of "collages" in Encarta. But in the modern era of high capacity DVDs, and when there is more than a gigabyte of space left on a DVD, it makes much less sense to reduce multimedia and article counts. In releases of Encarta from 2005 to 2008, there is always something that is reduced. Remaining space on the delivery medium certainly cannot be a factor.