Justifiably an excellent tool for students of all ages, Encarta is also the perfect antidote to the know-it-all. Have a dispute? Let's ask Encarta. Don't believe me? Let's see what Encarta has to say about it. A weekend spent in this manner proved that once again Microsoft's reference suite has made the grade.
The Encarta Premium Suite 2003 represents good value and has notable improvements in content, online integration and resource tools for the education sector. Fork out $199 and you'll get Encarta Encyclopedia Plus, Encarta World English Dictionary, Encarta Interactive World Atlas, Thesaurus and assorted study resources.
Clearly, students and teachers are the target audience for the suite, which now includes learning tools such as Project Starters (guides to writing various assignment styles) and a form-generated Chart Maker for the creation of pie charts and bar graphs. Most impressive are the new bilingual dictionaries in French, German, Spanish and Italian.
Updates to the encyclopedia are now seamless via the Internet. Users of the 2003 suite will gain free updates until October next year if they register with Club Encarta (which simply requires a .NET Passport membership and providing a few basic personal details). Every time Encarta is open and your PC is online, the product will update automatically - a nice feature that will give the tool a little more shelf life.
Users can also now avoid the disc-swapping drama that plagued previous editions with the Copy to Hard Drive feature, although you'll need at least a spare 2GB to install all four of the Premium Suite's CD-ROMS.
In brief: Encarta Premium Suite 2003
An encyclopedia, atlas, bilingual dictionaries and more - the Premium Suite offers excellent value, particularly for students.
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