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Software Review:    Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2002

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Top Pick This 2002 edition of an already excellent reference suite is better than ever. Beautiful to look at, filled with multimedia and helpful content, and easy to use, this reference library will help make any family's research efforts easier. The search feature is fabulous, with content from all titles in the suite seamlessly integrated together. New streaming live media and easy updates contribute to an exceptional product.

 This reference library contains the following titles:

  • Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe
  • Encarta World Dictionary and Thesaurus
  • Encarta Interactive Atlas
  • Encarta Africana

You also get a free subscription to Encarta Online for one year, after a short registration process. Also new for the 2002 edition is live streaming media--for example, the page for the city of Montreal features the current weather! Encarta FactFinder is yet another new feature that allows users to find simple facts, including definitions, quickly. 

Updates to the encyclopedia are now automatic--any time you are logged on and fire up your Encarta CD-ROM, the program looks for updates. In fact, now you don't even need to put your CD-ROMs into the drive in order to use your reference library--if space permits, you can install all content to the hard drive. This makes it that much easier to get the information you need, fast. 

For children over approximately 12 years of age, this program will prove invaluable. Kids only just beginning to need an encyclopedia will do best with World Book 2002--it is easier to read than Encarta. However, the whole family will enjoy Encarta. The dictionary/thesaurus/almanac is superior and contemporary, the "extras" (such as games, curriculum guides, report-writing feature, 3D virtual tours, etc.) are fabulous, and the integration between the handpicked web links and the encyclopedia itself is smooth.


  • Contemporary, well-integrated suite
  • Rich with multimedia
  • Updatable content (until Oct. 2002) is automatic
  • Plenty of extras and special features
  • Gorgeous interface


  • Children under 12 will find the reading level a little too high. 



For Windows By: Microsoft  Ages 10-up Published: 2001

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 Reviewed November 2001                                                                                                 Comments? Email us.

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