REDMOND, Wash. (, March 3, 1997 — The recent launch of the new Japanese version of Microsoft Encarta Multimedia Encyclopedia is yet another milestone driving the phenomenal success of this award-winning information resource for students and adults. In the five years since Encarta debuted, it has become the world’s leading multimedia encyclopedia, and has set the standard for reference sources around the globe.
With international sales already at 47 percent above projections for the fiscal year, Encarta 97 Encyclopedia is an international sensation in five languages, and the international business is expected to grow 150 percent over the next three years.
“Clearly, Encarta is very appealing as a complete encyclopedia that fully harnesses the power of the new multimedia PCs that families around the world are buying,”
said Craig Bartholomew, Microsoft reference business unit manager.
The success continues with the launch of the new Japanese edition of Encarta 97 Encyclopedia, a publishing feat that took two years and some 75 Japanese and other Asian editors to accomplish. With PC ownership expected to grow in Japan by 300 percent over the next five years, Microsoft anticipates another success story with the Japanese edition. The company will support the Japanese edition with an extensive advertising campaign targeting Japanese consumers who currently own the 2.5 million multimedia PCs in the market.
“Multimedia PC sales and retail software began to take off in Japan when consumers discovered that Windows 95 made it easier to use personal computers, and prices began to come down,”
said Linda Carnell, Encarta Encyclopedia international product manager.
“Encarta has been eagerly awaited in Japan and we expect it to do extremely well.”
“With so much emphasis on education in Japan, I expect education software to be a major factor in driving PC sales there, even more than it has been in the U.S.,”
said David Tremblay, senior industry analyst, Computer Intelligence, LaJolla, Calif.
“Encarta is by far the leading electronic encyclopedia in the U.S., and with Microsoft’s commitment to localizing products for international markets, I think that international editions of Encarta have a very bright future.”
The international success of the British, French, German and Spanish versions of Encarta Encyclopedia is due, in part, to the overwhelming value the product provides to families. At $100 to $200 (U.S.) per unit in most of the 30 countries where the international editions are available — including free monthly online updates (connect time charges may apply) — Encarta Encyclopedia is an exceptional value compared to local print encyclopedias which can cost as much as $3,000.
Encyclopedia experts agree that Encarta Encyclopedia has led the trend toward multimedia encyclopedias.
“Since Encarta was introduced in 1993, it has set the standard for multimedia encyclopedias. The up-to-date knowledge in Encarta is presented through the most imaginative and intellectually stimulating use of multimedia technology, in the smoothest interface available,”
said Kenneth F. Kister, renowned encyclopedia critic and author, .
“Each new edition has surpassed the previous one, demonstrating Microsoft’s commitment to creating a state-of-the-art product, while at the same time constantly raising the bar within the encyclopedia publishing industry worldwide.”
Award-winning Around the Globe
Reaction to the Encarta Encyclopedia international editions has been enthusiastic. in Great Britain declared Encarta Encyclopedia,
“the best value for money for anything on the planet. Encarta 97 is totally brilliant … the British bias makes it unbeatable for use in the U.K. It’s practically perfect in every way.”
Since October 1996, international awards for Encarta Encyclopedia already include:
“Exemplary Media for Teaching”
(Germany- awarded to only three percent of software)
“100 Best Ideas”
in Actualidad Economica magazine (Spanish edition of the British Financial Times)
: one of only two software programs ever to receive five out of five stars in CD-ROM Today (Britain)
: PC Loisir Magazine (France)
International Marketing Key for Success
Since fewer families outside the U.S. own personal computers, an innovative marketing strategy has been an important part of the international expansion plan for Encarta. Last fall, for instance, Microsoft aired a two-minute infomercial in France that described Encarta as a must-have software program that warranted buying a PC.
“We received thousands of requests for information and, according to the GFK Panel’s independent research, Encarta was the number one reference software program in France in the last quarter of 1996,”
North American Encarta Paved Way To International Success
Using the successful North American product as a base, Microsoft’s 1,200-person team of outstanding local editors and contributing experts developed international versions with similar award-winning designs and features. The North American Encarta Encyclopedia beats all competitors in the U.S., and 1996 sales represented 59.1 percent of all retail dollars spent on electronic encyclopedias, according to PC Data.
“These ambitious international editions would not have been possible were it not for the relentless attention to content, innovative multimedia, accuracy, and comprehensiveness in the North American version of Encarta that was the model for our editorial teams around the world,”
Each international edition features current information on thousands of subjects and tightly integrated multimedia featuring photos, graphics, audio/video and maps. Encarta 97 Encyclopedia also offers monthly online updates (20-25 new articles monthly), and the British edition boasts 2,000 Web Links, which can be updated and expanded monthly.
“To create successful international encyclopedias, we must make them relevant to the people in each country who use them,”
“We’re proud to have created encyclopedias that truly capture the countries’ historical perspective, local culture and interests.”
Pricing and Availability
Availability in the U.S., and U.S. prices for international editions, will be announced at a later date. The North American versions of Encarta Encyclopedia are available in stores for the following approximate prices: Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia, Deluxe Edition, $79.95; Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia, $54.95; and Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia, Deluxe Edition, School Edition, $69.95.
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