It was a steep rise and it has been a sharp decline for Windows Live Messenger, or MSN Messenger, as it was known in its prime, now that Microsoft will officially remove it completely and migrate existing and new users to Skype starting April 8.
This move may have been viewed as being inevitable after Microsoft spent a lot of money to acquire the popular video chat software, but it signals the end of an era in a way. As of now, this will be effective immediately (as of April 8) for Live Messenger on a PC or Mac, and will probably include the Messenger apps made for smartphones and tablets, though nothing has been confirmed on that yet.
Long before social networking really took off and text messaging became the norm, Messenger was the most popular online chatting platform, outdoing just about every other one that had come before it, like ICQ, for example. It ultimately peaked at up to 330 million active users per month as late as June 2009, according to Microsoft’s figures, but that’s probably much, much lower now.
Microsoft announced Messenger’s demise in November last year, and users began receiving emails in January informing them of the pending change to Skype. At the time, the date was set for March 15, but was later pushed back to April 8 to make the migration process easier, and give users more time to do it smoothly. This is assuming that active users still have a significant number of contacts that still use it.
If you already have a Skype account under a different email address, you won’t need to set up a separate account to move everything over. Microsoft has put together instructions on how to merge the two accounts, so that your existing Skype one basically absorbs the change.
The thing is, Skype is known for video chatting, not text chatting. In fact, text chatting on the software isn’t particularly exceptional, so it’s a wonder if the delay to April 8 may be required to roll out an update to the software to make it more messaging-friendly. Microsoft has been mum about anything related to that, so it’s hard to read if there’s anything to it.
The other question is how this move might affect integration with Microsoft’s existing services and software platforms. It’s already embedded in Windows Phone and the Xbox 360. There is a dedicated iOS app, but that will probably be retired in favour of the Skype app. What all this means to Windows Phone users is hard to say, but the likelihood is that Skype will just take over whatever features or functionality was inherent to Messenger in the first place. An update to the Skype app will probably smooth the transition, but again, nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
Once the calendar hits April 8 and you try to sign in, you’ll be instructed to download Skype (or the latest update), which will then automatically delete Live Messenger from your computer. In fact, this may even happen if you update Skype on your PC or Mac now.