Microsoft President Steve Ballmer Announces Encarta Reference Suite 99

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 2, 1998 — Today, Microsoft Corp. President Steve Ballmer unveiled the latest addition to its Encarta® family of reference tools, Microsoft® Encarta Reference Suite 99. Encarta Reference Suite 99 combines popular CD-ROM reference titles Encarta Encyclopedia 99 Deluxe Edition, Encarta Virtual Globe 99 and Microsoft Bookshelf® 99 CD-ROM reference library. The three products share the same look, so once students learn how to use one, they’ve learned how to use them all. The suite also expands the use of interactive multimedia elements such as 360-degree photographs and animated illustrations, and contains new articles, literary excerpts, reproductions of historical documents and more – bringing learning to life.

To celebrate the release of Microsoft Encarta Reference Suite 99 Microsoft will donate $1 million (estimated retail value) in software to underserved schools. Ballmer announced that Microsoft will distribute 10,000 copies of Encarta Reference Suite 99 through the Public Education Network (PEN), an organization dedicated to improving school achievement in the nation’s most disadvantaged public schools. Ballmer announced the donation before students from Bay Area schools during an event at San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences.

“This donation continues Microsoft’s efforts to open up new worlds of learning experiences for students everywhere,”
Ballmer said.
“Encarta Reference Suite 99 is a tremendous tool that will excite students about learning and inspire them to achieve their fullest academic potential.”

“We’ve spent a lot of time working with kids and watching them use the new version, and we’re encouraged with their response to the product,”
said Craig Bartholomew, general manager, learning business unit, Microsoft.
“It’s a truly rewarding experience to watch kids’ excitement when they discover the rich variety of information at their fingertips. Encarta Reference Suite 99 takes learning to a new level.”

“All students and educators need great multimedia reference resources like Encarta Encyclopedia, Encarta Virtual Globe and Bookshelf that make finding information fun and easy, and encourage kids to develop critical research skills,”
said John Brill, an advanced placement European history and American history teacher at Garfield High School in Seattle.
“And as a parent of a young son and daughter, it’s especially exciting to see how they spend more time on their work and learning about the world when they use the Encarta line at home.”

Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 99, the suite’s central component, features a new Web-like interface that allows students to choose a topic and easily navigate among related articles, illustrations and Web links, among other elements. For example, a student writing a report about Nepal can start by locating an article about the country and from there view pictures of Katmandu, jump to related articles about mountaineering in the Himalayas, and even navigate within a 360 degree surround-view of Mount Everest.

Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 99 is packed with more than 40,000 articles – including 8,000 new articles – 20 million words and thousands of multimedia elements. The encyclopedia features Natural Language Query, a new technology that allows users to search for information by typing in questions in plain English, such as
“What’s the highest mountain in the world?”
It also features command-and-control and text-to-speech technology, which allows users to navigate through the encyclopedia using spoken commands and hear text read aloud by a synthesized voice.

Encarta Virtual Globe 99 starts with a comprehensive collection of worldwide maps and includes more than 10,000 articles about indigenous cultures, geography, demographics, language and other supplementary content. Students can journey from the top of Mount Everest to the audio clips of a Nepalese cast of musicians, experiencing a distant part of the world in a way that was never possible in a print atlas.

Microsoft Bookshelf 99 helps users enrich and improve their writing by providing quick and easy access to nine best-selling reference works, including the American Heritage Dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus and the Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

“With Encarta Reference Suite 99, consumers receive the only truly integrated suite of reference products at a tremendous value,”
said Mark Young, group marketing manager, learning business unit, Microsoft.
“Sold separately, the software titles would cost more than $180. With the rebate offer, the Encarta Reference Suite is less than $70 – making this collection of reference works an invaluable addition to home and school libraries.”

The Encarta Reference Suite 99, which includes five CD-ROMs, is scheduled to be available in September 1998 for $69 after a $30 mail-in rebate. Schools and other educational institutions can obtain Encarta Reference Suite 99 through the Microsoft Open License Pack program, a flexible plan for purchasing Microsoft products. See an authorized academic reseller for more information or visit .

Microsoft Corp.’s learning business unit designs a line of award-winning multimedia reference products. The Encarta line of software tools combines comprehensive, current and authoritative content with state-of-the-art technology to encourage discovery and lifelong learning for students and adults. Users can rely on Encarta products to deliver tomorrow’s way to learn and explore. The complete Encarta line includes Encarta Encyclopedia; Encarta Virtual Globe; Bookshelf; Encarta Online; Encarta Reference Suite; and the line’s newest addition, Encarta Africana, scheduled to be available in January 1999.

Microsoft is working with PEN, the nation’s largest network of independent, community-based organizations supporting schools. Through local education funds in 25 states, PEN is working to increase teacher quality, advocate for high standards, improve public school libraries and engage citizens in support of high-quality public education for all children, especially the disadvantaged. PEN will distribute the 10,000 copies of Encarta Reference Suite 99 to the country’s most economically disadvantaged schools.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.


Microsoft, Encarta and Bookshelf are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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