The Active Network

Product: Encarta 2000 Reference Suite DVD Edition
Company: Microsoft
Estimated Street Price: $99.95
Review By: Byron Hinson

The Features

Being an avid DVD fan, I was very pleased when Microsoft finally brought the Encarta suite to DVD-ROM last year with Encarta 99. This year we get more of the same, with yet more articles, videos, timelines, maps, words and access to Encarta Online Deluxe. Here are a few of the features:

  • Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2000

  • Encarta Interactive World Atlas

  • NEW! Encarta World English Dictionary

  • Free* Encarta Online Deluxe!

    The #1 reference suite that combines three award winning products into a comprehensive and integrated reference solution on one DVD-ROM!

  • Convenience – Eliminates the need for disc swapping, with 5 CDs of information on one DVD-ROM.

  • Integration – 16,000 Suite Links bring each of the Suite applications one click away

  • Better Quality – All videos play with high resolution, full-screen video playback supported with MPEG 2 Video.

  • More media – Featuring more of the media that takes advantage of DVD-ROM technology. Includes 105% more videos and 220% more 360-degree views than the CD-ROM version.


  • The #1 name in multimedia encyclopedias Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2000 has 50% more information, including 42,000+ authoritative articles, 10,000 new historical archive articles, and 40+ million words.

  • Experience more multimedia! Bring learning to life with more than 24,900 photos and illustrations, and more than 3,540 audio clips.

  • Explore the world from your desktop with Encarta Interactive World Atlas 2000. With more than 20 map styles and 1.7+ million place names, it provides eight times the detail of any printed atlas!

  • Enrich your command of the English language as it is written and spoken around the world with the unique Encarta World English Dictionary.

  • Make learning an ongoing adventure. All suite products work together to inspire a passion to learn, explore, discover and create.

  • Access Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe anytime, anywhere you have Internet access.*

    *Online updates for Encarta Reference Suite 2000 are made available on the Internet each month from June 1999 to December 2000 at no additional cost.

    Access to and use of the Internet may require payment of a separate fee to an Internet service provider. Connect time charges may apply.

Installation and Settings

The Encarta Reference Suite 2000 usually comes on 5 CD's, but now with the DVD version there is no need to spend time swapping around the CD's when you are searching for information. Encarta has a number of different installation choices for you to pick from, once you insert the DVD you can install various components as shown below:

  • Encarta Research Organizer A tool that helps you gather and organize information for school reports.

  • Encarta Lesson Collection Lesson plans and activities for students organized by topic and grade level.

  • Encarta Interactive World Atlas Access virtually anything on the map

  • Natural Language Query A utility that lets you ask questions as well as use keywords to search in Encarta Encyclopedia.

  • Text to Speech A utility that lets you have articles read aloud to you in Encarta Encyclopedia.

  • Speech Recognition A utility that enables you to use voice commands instead of the mouse or keyboard to perform many common functions in Encarta Encyclopedia.

  • Multimedia Catalog A multimedia preview of many Microsoft games, home reference, and other CD-ROM titles.

The bottom three are not really needed unless you would like to use these gimmicks such as text to speech or the slowly improving Microsoft Speech Recognition. Installing the Encarta 2000 DVD can take a while (Especially if you choose to install Internet Explorer 5 as well) but it installed without any problems.

Encarta Itself

I have decided to break the review down into separate components just like Encarta itself is. I will begin with the Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2000. Encarta Encyclopedia is filled full of documents, topics, accounts, illustrations, sounds and videos, everything you would want from a computer encyclopedia.

encarta2000_rs_1.jpg (66880 bytes)

For those of you who have not seen the layout and design of Encarta I will explain the basic layout for you. The basic design is similar to that of the old MSN that Microsoft used to run, the borders and menus are in black, while the main area you read, view articles, images etc from changes color depending on what you are reading, although it is usually a white background. At the top of the Encarta layout are the main menus, they include the following:

  • Find -- Allows you to search for items by writing in a letter/word, you can also sort items by their type, such as sounds or images.

  • Home -- This brings you back to the encyclopedias main page.

  • Features -- From here you can bring up some of the main parts of the encyclopedia such as Time lines, world maps, information about the Millennium, Virtual Tours and much, much more.

  • Tools -- You can load up the dictionary, curriculum guide, report guide and more school related tools from here. You can also update your copy of Encarta from here via a connection to the Internet.

  • Options -- Find, Voice Controls and settings can all be accessed from here.

  • Favorites -- Add certain Encarta pages to your favorites list for easy access.

  • Suite -- You can load up a different suite from here.

  • Help -- Get easy access to help options.

The main area from which you search from is called "Find" once you click on this option via the menu, a bar appears on the left hand side of the layout, from here you can enter letters/words to find items you are looking for. You can also search by type of information, this way you can filter out items and only choose a certain type such as an image or some video footage, something that is very useful.

encarta2000_rs_2.jpg (106026 bytes)

Encarta is full of very well written articles from science to entertainment, each item you read is streamed off of the DVD in such a quick speed you don't notice any kind of wait at all. Certain articles also contain different types of multimedia such as sounds, images, video footage and some excellent 360-Degree Views (Shown below).

encarta2000_rs_6.jpg (81526 bytes)

The 360-Degree Views are as I mentioned, very impressive. They add a good level of interactivity into the encyclopedia, even more so when they are used in the Virtual Tours section of Encarta. From the Virtual Tours section (Shown below) you can travel to destinations across the world and view them via the 360-Degree option, but it isn't limited to just one view, clicking on hyperlinks in the video window moves you onto new locations.

encarta2000_rs_7.jpg (61332 bytes)

As you can already see, Encarta isn't limited to just basic articles and images it also has a host of interactive extras for young and old alike. By clicking on the Interactivities center via the Features menu you can view simulations on a host of subjects. They range from building up a dinosaur from its bones (Shown below) to viewing the human skull anatomy.

encarta2000_rs_4.jpg (72659 bytes) encarta2000_rs_3.jpg (81756 bytes)

A new feature in Encarta 2000 is the Dynamic Timeline (Shown Below), from here you can explore and analyze history through a mass of timelines. At a first look it may seem a little bit confusing, but one you start to find topics or years, searching categories and places then it all becomes far easier and very interesting to read.

encarta2000_rs_10.jpg (89802 bytes) encarta2000_rs_11.jpg (143043 bytes)

There are so many features in Encarta 2000 that it is very hard to go through them all in one go. Next up we have the Internet options. By clicking on TOOLS and then DOWNLOADS you can update your Encarta yearbook with the latest articles and images that has been updated by the Encarta team. New yearbook updates are released each month and only take a few minutes to download and helps keep your articles up to date if your children use Encarta for schoolwork. This current year 2000 update of Encarta also includes special Millennium yearbook updates that you can download and can be access in the Millennium section.

encarta2000_rs_12.jpg (120990 bytes)

Encarta World English Dictionary

Encarta 2000 Reference Suite DVD comes with a multimedia reference library, which you can use to enhance your written communication and find information about many different topics. Encarta Dictionary is the first newly written English Dictionary in over 30 years. From here you can access the Dictionary, Thesaurus, Quotations, Almanac, Style Guide and Computer Dictionary. The dictionary is again very well written and easy to use, with many sounds and musical items included within it. Oh and the computer Dictionary is also very nice too heh.

encarta2000_rs_8.jpg (65267 bytes) encarta2000_rs_9.jpg (77744 bytes)

Final Comments

How It Grades
  Ease Of Use: 90%
Design: 93%
Video: 89%
Sound: 92%
Online Access: 90%
Sound: 91%
Music: 87%
Manual: 79%
Interface: 90%
Overall: 91%


The Encarta 2000 Reference Suite DVD is a must by in my opinion. It makes create use of your DVD-ROM and features so many articles, images, sounds and videos that you will be engrossed for hours and on top of that you also get access to Encarta online until the end of next year and an excellent dictionary. Overall Encarta 2000 Reference Suite DVD is something your DVD-ROM drive cannot do without.


Specs & Package
Overall Score 91%
Version Reviewed Version
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 DVD-ROM
1 Set of instructions
The Good Points Easy To Use
Excellent Layout & Design
Full Of Great Multimedia
More Interactive Than Ever
Great Dictionary
Mentions Linux
Free Encarta Online Access Until End 2000
The Bad Points Not Enough New Videos Over Encarta 99 DVD
Voice Recognition Still Not Great
Reviewers PC Setup Pentium II 450
Windows 98 Second Edition
128 Meg SD-Ram
Matrox G400 32MB AGP Graphics Card
Voodoo 2 - 8mb
DirectX 7
SoundBlaster Live! Value
17" LG Electronics Monitor
Microsoft Force Feedback Pro
Microsoft Game Pad Pro (USB)
Microsoft Digital Sound System 80
Microsoft Intellimouse

DVD Setup: Toshiba SD-1202 DVD-ROM - 32x
DVD TV Player - Samsung 807

PC Required Multimedia PC with a Pentium or higher processor
32 MB of RAM for Windows® 95 or Windows® 98;
40 MB for Windows® NT Workstation
135 MB of available hard-disk space (150 needed for install)
Quad-speed DVD-ROM drive or faster
Super VGA, 256-color or higher monitor supporting 640X480 or higher resolution (800 x 600 screen resolution recommended) with local bus video and 1 MB or more of video memory
Windows 95, Windows 98 or later, or Windows NT Workstation version 4.0 or later with Service Pack 3 or later

Web browser; Internet access** Online updates for Encarta Encyclopedia 2000 are made available on the Internet each month from June 1999 to December 2000 at no additional cost.

**Access to and use of the Internet require payment of a separate fee to an Internet provider, and telephone charges may apply.


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