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Messenger to Be Discontinued: March 15 Date Set by Microsoft

Sites include , . Published on January 15th, 2013. Written by Anthony West.

I don’t normally check my Hotmail account since I am now a heavy Google user, but I received an “Important” email from Microsoft regarding my Messenger account. I suspect if you have a Hotmail account you’d have received the same email too which announced sadly the discontinuance of Messenger come the 15th March, 2013.

Sad but c’est la vie

This was bound to happen anyway, so although the 100 million+ users of Messenger will be sad to see the service go, many would have known that the plans were already in the works. Back in May 2011 when Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion, it became clear that Microsoft was looking to take its Messenger services in another direction. You see unlike Skype which has a premium end to it, Messenger is all free. This model is antiquated and even Yahoo is retiring or scaling down its IM offering.

Existing users will be migrated to Skype and full details about the change were given in the email: “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.”

Things will be confusing at first

Come March 15 users who merge their accounts with Skype will essentially have two sets of contacts, one set to delineate Skype people and the other to delineate Messenger people. No-one knows yet what the interface layout will be like but some believe the early days will be a bit confusing for some. Many of Hotmail’s and Messenger’s most loyal users are the same people who still can’t upgrade from Internet Explorer 6; these people will be confused for sure.

Still, once things settle down Messenger users should be happy with the new setup. Skype already provides some of the best call quality and video calls compared to many services and so using it to chat with Messenger friends shouldn’t be too bad. We hope.

Chinese users keeping old Messenger

The one thing that Microsoft did say which may seem odd to most is that users in China will continue to have use of Messenger in its current form. But whilst this may seem odd it isn’t too surprising. In China Skype doesn’t have the mindshare it has in the rest of the world and Microsoft would lose a lot of ground if discontinued Messenger right now. The software giant is presumably keeping Messenger alive long enough in China so that Skype can gain more ground.

From a wider perspective it is not clear yet what the reaction is to Microsoft’s announcement, many users haven’t heard the news and many millions of users who use Messenger don’t necessarily check their Hotmail accounts. Whatever the case there is bound to be some discontent but not too much—Skype is too good a service for that.

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