February 15, 2013
Microsoft Extends Life of Messenger — Users Will Now Switch to Skype Beginning April 8
Skype is rolling out its video voicemail feature, which is still in beta, for Android, iOS and Mac today.
Those using Skype on any of the three compatible platforms can both send messages — up to three minutes in length — and receive them in their inbox.
Microsoft, which acquired Skype in October 2011, has yet to say when video messaging will be available for Windows.
While Windows users can’t send video messages, they can receive them, but as a link rather than as a clip.
Microsoft is also gearing up for the big switch on April 8 when the company will pull the plug on Windows Live Messenger (WLM) in favor of Skype.
Microsoft had originally planned to discontinue Messenger for all users, except those in China, on March 15, but will now switch only a test group — about one percent of its user base — over to the new platform.
Microsoft, beginning with its English-speaking users April 8, will continue the switch-over to Skype with an estimated completion date of April 30.
“We’re excited about welcoming Windows Live Messenger users to Skype,” says director of marketing integration for Skype Parri Munsell in a blog post. “Last November, we announced that Messenger and Skype are coming together with the option to sign in with a Microsoft account.
“We want everyone who uses Messenger to have a positive experience. Upgrading to Skype can help you communicate in flexible ways, and be connected on more devices and platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, Windows Phone, Android and soon Blackberry.”
Microsoft will offer a tool to ease the transition for WLM messenger users to Skype — WLM users can sign in to Skype and bring over their contacts.
“This effort started with the release of Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows a few weeks ago, which allows you to sign into Skype using a Microsoft account,” Skype CEO Tony Bates said in a November blog post. “Now Messenger users just need to update to the latest version of Skype, sign in using a Microsoft account, and their Messenger contacts will be there.”
According to the blog, by updating to Skype, users can expect:
• Broader device support for all platforms, including iPad and Android tablets.
• Instant messaging, video calling, and calling landlines and mobiles all in one place.
• Sharing screens.
• Video calling on mobile phones.
• Video calling with Facebook friends.
• Group video calling.
Microsoft also announced a new Skype for Windows 8 in late October. The company billed the new version as “simpler, faster and easier to use” because it takes advantage of some of the new features offered by Windows 8.
People Hub, ability to pin favorite contacts as a tile for easy access and the Skype Live Tile that displays messages and notifications on the start screen are all new features.