Everyone knew it was coming, but it still feels like a parting with an old friend as Microsoft emails all its Messenger account users to tell them that the jig is up and that they have until March 15th to move over to Skype.
Skype Kills-Off Messenger
The original announcement was made last November when Microsoft announced its intention to make the change sometime in the first quarter of 2013. With the announcement, Microsoft also revealed details of how users could make the move, how it would affect their contacts and the use of contacts and what the advantages of Skype are.
The current email, which Microsoft started sending out late last night, was sent with the subject line "Important info about your Messenger Account" and continues in the body of the mail with:
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."
Microsoft and Skype
The move has been in the works for a while with some commentators snidely suggesting that Microsoft had to find something to do with its US$ 8.5 billion purchase.
And to date, while it has started to integrate into some of its products and even launched Skype in the workspace (SITW), it's hard to see, for the moment, where the value of Skype actually lies for Microsoft.
That is not to say that it’s not useful, but just that Microsoft has been a tad tardy in exploiting it. That said, at the end of October, Microsoft announced that it was integrating it into Dynamics CRM along with Yammer and we began to get a picture of where all this might be going.
But this kind of future is all speculation still, and for the moment Microsoft appears to be happy to build Skype up, this time at the expense of Messenger.
It has been testing it for quite a while already. In September, Skype started testing a Windows and Mac beta release that enabled users sign into Skype using Windows Live ID. The result -- since then, users have been able to send and receive instant messages as well as check the availability of their contacts on Messenger, Xbox, Hotmail or Outlook.com.
Skype, even before Microsoft, easily had the edge over Messenger as the company had spent considerable time and resources building out the Skype mobile app. While many people use both Skype and Messenger, it really doesn’t add up to support both apps, especially as the mobile Skype app beats Messenger hands down every time.
The result -- until March 15, Microsoft says, Messenger "will continue to work as you know it today,”.