Windows Live Messenger To Be Scrapped By 2013, Microsoft Encourages Users To Turn To Skype

Goodbye, Windows Live Messenger

Goodbye, Windows Live Messenger.

As the BBC notes, Microsoft will soon be retiring its instant message chat tool and will instead be encouraging users to use Skype.

"Skype and Messenger are coming together," wrote Tony Bates, President of the Skype Division at Microsoft, on Tuesday. "We will retire Messenger in all countries worldwide in the first quarter of 2013 (with the exception of mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available)."

Brian Hall, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Live unit, had a similar message for users on the Windows blog.

Tuesday's announcement comes several months after the software giant bought Skype for $8.5 billion in May 2011.

At the time, the costly acquisition caused some industry pundits to scratch their heads in bafflement. But as Forbes contributor Kelly Clay notes, the big purchase is making a "little more sense" now.

Still, even though Microsoft promises that Skype will offer "a better experience and [an] even stronger network," the Windows instant messaging tool will undoubtedly be missed by many.

For those who grew up in the pre-Facebook, pre-smartphone era, the news is bittersweet. Some of our first social activity online took place using instant messaging programs like AIM, ICQ and Windows Live, once known as MSN Messenger. But it makes sense to end operations, given that the world, as Microsoft acknowledges here, has largely moved on to other platforms and services.

User numbers for Windows Live Messenger, which was first launched in 1999, have been dropping in recent years. According to Tech Crunch, the instant messaging service may have lost around 200 million users since 2010.

Skype, meanwhile, now has more than 280 million users, according to an Ubergizmo report from October. Moreover, as TechCrunch noted in July, usage of the chat provider has jumped significantly in the last year.

"When a company has competing products that can result in cannibalization it's often better to focus on a single one," Brian Blau of the consultancy firm Gartner told BBC, commenting on Tuesday's announcement.

"Skype's top-up services offer the chance to monetize its users and Microsoft is also looking towards opportunities in the living room. Messenger doesn't seem like an appropriate communications platform for TVs or the firm's Xbox console -- but Skype does," he continued.

What do you think of Microsoft's decision to drop Windows Live Messenger? Tell us in the comments below.

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