Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2002 CD and DVD. (General Interest Software/Web Sites)

Article excerpt

Company: Microsoft Inc., One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington, 98052; Phone: 425/882-8080; Web Site: http://www.microsoft.com/.

Price: $75. Multi-user and educational pricing available.

Audience: Grades--elementary through adult.

Format: CD-ROM or DVD-ROM: text, pictures, animation, timelines, maps, video, and sound.

Minimum System Requirements: Windows-compatible PCs: 200 MHz PC (300 MHz preferred) with a Pentium processor, 32 MB RAM for Windows 98 and ME (64 MB for Windows 2000 or XP), up to 330 MB free hard disk space, Windows 98 or higher, 4x CD-ROM drive, super VGA 16 bit color monitor, mouse, sound card, and printer.

Full use of the CD and DVD versions requires Explorer 5.5 (included) and optional Internet access. The "copy to hard drive feature" requires up to 2.2 GB additional hard disk space.

Description: The Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2002 is a comprehensive information source containing the Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2002, Encarta Interactive WorldAtlas, Encarta Dictionary and Thesaurus, and Encarta Africana. With thousands of articles, pictures, media resources, and reference tools, it is a one-stop research tool.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: I installed the Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2002 DVD version on a Gateway 450 MHz computer with a Pentium III processor, 96 MB RAM, 9 GB hard drive, Windows 98, 6x DVD-ROM drive, 17-inch color monitor, Sound Blaster audio, Gateway mouse, and Epsom Stylus 440 color printer.

Loading the DVD automatically launched the installation wizard. It led to a simple point-and-click installation process, which set up all of the products in the program. I could select a custom installation or use the default settings. I selected the optional installation to the hard drive. This process was fully automatic, yet it took more than 30 minutes to install.

I also installed the CD-ROM version on an older PC running Windows 98. Installation was essentially the same for both versions, but much quicker, since I did not copy the entire library to the hard drive. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: The Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe remains the most important feature of the Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2002. The resources seem endless, with nearly 70,000 articles, 20,000 photos and illustrations, 200 videos and animations, and as many Web links. New features include 3-D Virtual Tours of ancient historical sites and the ability to access live radio broadcasts and MSNBC news. An Update Encarta feature allows the user to access information released since the release date; however, the user must register the product and join Club Encarta.

Features of the encyclopedia are essentially the same for both formats; however, the DVD version provides whole screen video viewing. This is particularly useful in a classroom setting.

The Encarta Interactive World Atlas provides items not available in a typical print atlas. In addition to many times more maps than can be included in a book, this program includes fly-overs, Map Treks, and the ability to zoom in on a location or out to a global view. This is particularly useful in helping younger students understand the relationship between actual locations and maps.

Map styles can be changed to suit user needs and the Customizer feature can include or delete information, such as when designing assessments.

The Encarta Africana remains an important tool for social studies classes. It contains a wealth of topics related to Africa. These include interactive timelines on music and history, virtual tours of locations and biomes, and minilectures about subject matter of particular interest.

I reviewed the first edition of Encyclopedia Africana several years ago. This edition seems little changed from that version. However, the topics and resources are as relevant today and just as difficult to find in other programs. …