Encarta 2005 Premium

Microsoft Encarta is one of my favourite pieces of software and I was very pleased when the 2005 Premium Suite arrived at my office a while ago.The version of Encarta I received comes on four CD-ROM discs but, fortunately, you can install the whole thing on your hard drive so that you don’t have to keep swapping between discs. Encarta is wonderful melange of encyclopaedia, world atlas, list of quotations, English dictionary, bilingual dictionaries in a number of languages, a thesaurus, guides to famous works of literature, an archive of articles from Times newspaper and a version of itself for younger children.
The product includes over 130000 entries, 25000 pictures and illustrations and various other bits and pieces including sounds and video. In addition to all this, Encarta is very tightly integrated with the Internet and makes it very easy to find more information about any topic.
Encarta provides access to a huge number of websites which have been vetted by Encarta Editors and, if you can’t find the information you’re looking for, you can perform a general web search. One of the coolest things about Encarta is the Researcher tool which you can use to capture information from Encarta and the Internet and then output all your gleanings into a nice MS Word document or web page which you can edit. Any moderately savvy kid could use Encarta, the Internet and Researcher to compile his or her project in fractions of the time that it took us in our day.
Some may say that that is no good and that the kids will never the learn the research skills we previous generations had to employ. The short answer to which is that we only went delving in dusty libraries because we didn’t have Encarta and because the Internet hadn’t been invented yet.
I loved Encarta but I found it astonishingly difficult to write this article because I kept getting distracted by it and plunging off to browse for interesting things. In very short order I had read an extract from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, all about Frank Whittle, the inventor of jet engines, and a literature guide to Slaughter House-Five.
I also read a bit out of Samuel Pepys’ diary for 4 December 1661 in which he said that, on his way to town, he “saw a man lie dead upon Westminster Stairs that had been drowned yesterday”. And on that note, I see that there’s article on our very own Chester Williams which I must read.
Microsoft Encarta 2005 Premium Suite will cost you something over R500 and a bit more than than for the DVD editions.

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