Microsoft Windows Messenger to end on March 15

Microsoft has finally served notice on its Windows Live Messenger service, stating that it will shut down effectively from March 15 this year. From that date, anyone trying to log in will find that the service does not operate and users who still want to communicate electronically wil have to turn to Skype.

Microsoft has sent an email to all its users with a message to this effect today, warning of the Messenger shut down, but early indications are that users are not happy with the switch over.

_63971838_ssageMicrosoft are trying to encourage Messenger users to update to Skype, before the official shut down, in an attempt to familiarise themselves with the service before they close the service down for good.

The service switch is a consequence of Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype in October 2011 for $8.5bn (£5.3bn).

Microsoft announced that it was switching off Live Messenger back in November 2012, and set a date for early 2013 but gave no firm time. At the same time, Microsoft made it possible for Messenger users to talk to and swap messages with contacts via Skype.

According to internet analysis firm Comscore, WLM still had more than double the number of Skype’s instant messenger facility at the start of this year in the US, and was second only in popularity to Yahoo Messenger.

But the report suggested WLM’s US audience had fallen to 8.3 million unique users, representing a 48% drop year-on-year. By contrast, the number of people using Skype to instant message each other grew over the period.

Microsoft highlighted the fact that WLM was still more popular than Yahoo’s product in most other territories, but nevertheless decided to call time on the service.

“When a company has competing products that can result in cannibalisation it’s often better to focus on a single one,” said Brian Blau from the consultancy Gartner.

“Skype’s top-up services offer the chance to monetise its users and Microsoft is also looking towards opportunities in the living room.

Skype screenshot Skype is offering a tool to migrate users WLM contacts to its service

“Messenger doesn’t seem like an appropriate communications platform for TVs or the firm’s Xbox console – but Skype does.”

He also noted that the firm had opted to integrate Skype into its new Windows Phone 8 smartphone software, eclipsing the effort to integrate WLM into the message threads of the operating system’ previous version.

To help people migrate before 15 March, Microsoft has added an upgrade button to its desktop Messenger that when clicked uninstalls Messenger and puts Skype in its place.

Until the switch-off date Messenger would work as it always did, said Microsoft.

The Windows Live Messenger instant messaging program was known as MSN Messenger when it first launched in 1999. The service is believed to be used by about 300 million people every month.

There is one way to continue to use the Messenger service however, you could always move to China,as this is the only nation in which Messenger will keep operating, because it is run under licence there.

Source: BBC News