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Reviewed in this issue:

Microsoft gives you the world

Encarta 97

Encarta World Atlas 97

Some of you may have read my previous gripes about the quality of electronic atlases. I am an information junkie, and my particular weaknesses are in reference materials.

When the people at Microsoft sent me the Encarta 97 World Atlas, I was chuffed (technical term). I was even more impressed when I used the web links to discover that Microsoft are putting third-party web links on their site. So, when you fire up World Atlas on your CD, you can select the web links, select a city, and find some informative sites for that city. Cool. Interactive. Dynamic.

Satellite image, Earth by Day, go on, click it
The World Atlas has beautiful graphics. Gosh does the Darling River really go that far west?

Relief maps are by far my favourite kind. I have worked on geological maps for BHP Petroleum in the past and I loved that type too. So here is Microsoft providing a range of beautiful coloured maps. Coloured is a big thing, remember those abysmal monotone maps we've had in the past?

My only serious criticism was that the type of map you are looking at is not clearly shown, you know, 'physical, political, relief" etc. You can click on a button to find out about the type of map, legend and so on, but I still like that simple piece of information out in the open.

One problem I found was that the title bar on my system partially concealled the navigation bar in the Atlas. Otherwise, if you are used to mousey-clicky environments, it seems pretty straight forward. But a word of warning - the menus are not drag-and-click, they are click-click. If you try to drag your cursor down a list the list disappears.

click on it to see a larger version
The World According to Microsoft, pretty, n'est-ce que pas?

The Microsoft team have an impressive list of advisors, the bibliography is large including such works as Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts, and includes information from a wide range of sources. Although the content is not complete by any stretch of the imagination, it is a taster. Click on a place, have a look at the 'family portraits' --photos and soundbites. There is a bit about various countries, states and cities, and remember, the web is the click of an icon away.

Once on the web, there are the links. Again, not comphrehensive, but a start. You can use the World Atlas to surf the globe, use your mouse, drag the world around, click on a spot, drill down, and then go up onto the web to find out more about that place.

World Atlas includes such cool images as satellite views, both day and night, annotated panoramic views, which are high-level flyovers, and more.

"comphrehensive world" map, click it

Some city maps go down this far…

Once you've seen this screen captures, how can you resist?

How's this for a fabulous photo of Melbourne?

Copyright stuff

What Microsoft says:

"Stay on the right side of the law

World Atlas lets you copy text, maps, and images to the Windows Clipboard. This feature is provided for your personal use of the product. For example, you may copy a map to your word processor for use in a flyer, brochure, or other advertisement, as long as you keep the copyright information with the map and the map is not sold. Or you can print a map to refer to when you're away from your computer.

However, copyright law does not allow you, for example, to copy a map or article for commercial publication (as in a newsletter or magazine), or for posting onto a computer bulletin board or the World Wide Web. These examples only illustrate, and are not meant to summarize applicable law. Please refer to the licence agreement that comes with the product for more information on how you may use the software."

TitleEncarta 97 World Atlas (CD) - World English edition
PublisherMicrosoft Corporation
Language'World English'
Operating SystemWindows 95; 486SX/66 or higher, 8Mb RAM 6MB hard disk space, double-speed CD-ROM drive
Rec. Retail Price$A79
Release MediaCD
System requirementsWindows 95 with CD, sound card recommended
Target audience (for kids, age)general reference, very good for kids. Copyright permits use in flyers and brochures with appropriate acknowledgements.
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: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1999 All rights reserved
Filed: 30-Mar-97 Last compiled: 10-Aug-2014
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