Microsoft is planning to kill off Windows Live Messenger, moving all its users to Skype. "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)," according to Skype's official blog.
There are lots of reasons why this is a good idea, now that Microsoft owns Skype. There is also no cause for concern if you're a Messenger user. You won't lose your contacts or friends, and there are some great reasons for using Skype instead of Messenger.
It's curtains for Windows Live Messenger, and that's not a bad thing. Here's why.
Why it makes sense for Skype to replace Messenger.
Microsoft bought Skype in 2011, meaning that it owned two competing products. From that moment it seemed the best of both products were likely to be merged, but we didn't know what the outcome would be.
This year two developments have made it pretty clear that Skype will be the brand that survives. Skype 6 allowed users to log in with their Windows (or Hotmail, etcetera) accounts, and then previews of Windows 8 appeared with Skype integrated but no Messenger to be seen.
On top of this, there are well developed, popular and recently updated Skype apps on almost all platforms. Windows Live Messenger seems to have not been updated on many platforms since December 2011. The survival of Messenger looked less and less likely this year.
Messenger certainly has its fans and brand awareness, but Skype still seems much fresher, and has a better reputation especially for audio and video calls. It may not be quite as specialized as Windows Live Messenger when it comes to instant messaging, but it's a much more complete app overall.
Why you shouldn't be worried.
What we've seen on OnSoftware over the last few years is that Windows Live Messenger fans have not been happywith recent updates. The main complaints against Windows Live Messeger 2012 were about the unnecessary new features that have creeped in, making a big, unfocused messaging app.
Windows Live Messenger now comes with integrated Bing search, a MSN news homepage, games and social updates from your contacts. In short, it's lost sight of its real purpose - to be a great messaging app.
In contrast, while Skype has changed and added Facebook and Messenger support, it sticks to communication. There is no bloat in Skype. It allows you to chat via text, audio or video with your contacts, and nothing more.
To put it bluntly, if you don't like the new Windows Live Messenger: download Skype. You can log in with the same account, and you'll have all your contacts in Skype without all the unnecessary bloat of Messenger.
The end of an era.
I used Messenger for a long time, and it was the first instant messenger service that really took hold among my friends. But with the rise of Facebook and Skype, it has become unnecessary.
Aside from nostalgia, there is no reason to be sad about the death of Windows Live Messenger. Windows 8 is already breaking away from the past for Microsoft, and it's good that they are spring cleaning their software services too.
For more on getting started with Skype, check out Amber's guide.
Tell us below if you're going to miss Windows Live Messenger!