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January 10, 2013

RIP Messenger: Service to End March 15

Microsoft will pull the plug on Windows Messenger Live March 15 in favor of Skype.

Although Microsoft announced last November via its Skype blog that Windows Live Messenger (WLM) would be disabled globally, except in China, by March 2013, the company announced the official cutoff date this week.

The following message is being sent to Messenger users:

On 15th March 2013 we are retiring the existing Messenger service globally (except for mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available) and bringing the great features of Messenger and Skype together. Update to Skype and sign in using a Microsoft Account (same as your Messenger ID) and all your Messenger contacts will be at your fingertips. You’ll be able to instant message and video chat with them just like before, and also discover new ways of staying in touch with Skype on your mobile and tablet.
Yours sincerely,
The Messenger Team

As the message from Microsoft hints, the company 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 his 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.

Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 billion in October 2011. Microsoft had announced in May 2011 it had agreed to acquire Skype, but the deal could not be finalized until European regulators approved the deal.