Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger (WLM) will be switched off in China at the end of October.
Microsoft transferred Windows Live Messenger users outside China to Skype in 2013, leaving China the only place where the WLM service was still used. But Microsoft will now switch it off completely in China on 31 October 2014, ending its 15-year history.
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Formerly known as MSN Messenger, WLM was launched in 1999. It was enhanced several times to include photo delivery, voice and video calls, and games.
The move reflected the firm's determination to focus its efforts on Skype, which replicates much of the functionality of WLM.
Analysts said that, when a company has competing products that can result in cannibalisation, it is often better to focus on a single one.
The benefits of Skype include broader device support for all platforms – including iPad and Android tablets – and having instant messaging, video calling and calls to landlines and mobiles, all in one place.
Skype's top-up services offer the chance for Microsoft to generate revenues from its users and provides a more appropriate communications platform for TVs or the Xbox gaming console than WLM.
RIP MSN Messenger – an excerpt from The Full Spectrum blog
“Although my earliest tech memories tend to be of my sister's Amstrad or my own Nintendo consoles, my teenage years were dominated by the internet and the cries from my father to make sure I disconnected every 59 minutes so we could take advantage of the free hour deal Bulldog did at the time…
“When I was in senior school, the craze rushed through the halls like football stickers a few years before and everyone was trying to come up with the coolest email address to use on Hotmail. As the token goths at school, we were trying to come up with the darkest - I remember a specific phase as 'Satanic Rose' - and once we all had the net at home, we would spend hours whining to each other over MSN about how the world hated us or how great the latest Cradle of Filth album was…
“As I went through my teens, it continued to be a huge part of my life. Leaving for university meant I could still talk to friends back home, meeting new people at gigs used to end with, 'what's your MSN name?' and dull statistics lectures were cheered up with details of who had done what at the student union the night before. I even managed to meet my best friend on MSN years before we even met in person - sometimes I think he would have preferred we hadn't...
“Then came Facebook. We all had MySpace already, but Facebook felt different and, even before the chat function was installed, my friends and acquaintances drifted away from MSN to the world of status updates and the infernal tagging of photos on nights out that should have remained between your nearest and dearest.”