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MSN Encarta
Microsoft quietly closed the book on Encarta earlier this year as free reference materials online came to eclipse the once-popular digital encyclopedia.

Encarta was a relatively revolutionary product when it was first published on CD-ROM in 1993. It contained a trove of articles, images, maps and multimedia features. Later, the content was also accessible online for a yearly subscription fee.

But Encarta's popularity faded throughout this decade with the rise of Web-based encyclopedia Wikipedia. While it has been criticized as inaccurate and unreliable, Wikipedia is free of charge. And, unlike Encarta, it is updated in real time.

NEXT: Gourmet Magazine

Last updated December 20 2009: 11:08 AM ET
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