Microsoft is set to ditch its longstanding Windows Live Messenger service and instead focus on Skype. In a post on Skype’s blog, Microsoft confirmed it will be retiring Live Messenger in all countries worldwide in the first quarter of 2013 worldwide, except for in China. This comes just one day after rumours of such move began circulating.
Microsoft began transitioning users from Windows Live Messeger when it released its Skype 6.0 update several weeks ago that allows users to sign into Skype with a Microsoft account. Microsoft, which bought Skype in 2011, has assured Messenger users that “We will work with you over the next few months to help you transition and offer information and help along the way”. The current process to switch from Messenger to Skype is a straight forward one that simply requires Messenger users to update to the latest version of Skype and sign up through a Microsoft account to instantly synchronise all of their details and contacts between the two services.
Window Live Messenger originally launched as MSN Messenger back in 1999 and enjoyed immediate success for its instant messaging capabilities. In the years since its launch it has been updated to include photo delivery, video chat and online games. In 2009 the service celebrated its 10th anniversary by reporting over 330 million users worldwide.
However the increasingly competitive online space has seen Messenger’s userbase drop in recent years. The arrival of rival services (such as, ironically, Skype) drew away users as did the inclusion of instant messaging services on social networks like Facebook, who added Facebook Chat functionality in 2008.
Though Messenger now has just over 100 million users, this is still significantly higher than Skype who boasts 36 million simultaneous users at peak times. Yet while Messenger’s audience is shrinking year-on-year, Skype continues to grow and it is clear which service Microsoft is betting on for the future, especially when Skype is more easily monetised. Microsoft is hoping that its remaining Messenger users will migrate to Skype rather than to rival services Like AIM and Google Talk.
Though Windows Live Messenger may no longer be the powerhouse it once was, the service will no doubt be fondly remembered by those who used it in its prime – and by those who still use it today.