Microsoft to drop Windows Live Messenger for Skype

Microsoft has announced it intends to "retire" its instant message chat tool Windows Live Messenger in favour of Skype's messaging tool

Microsoft has announced it intends to "retire" its instant message chat tool Windows Live Messenger in favour of Skype's messaging tool.

The announcement comes just 18 months after Microsoft announced plans to acquire internet telephony firm Skype in a $8.5bn deal.

Microsoft said Windows Live Messenger (WLM) is to be turned off by March 2013 worldwide, with the exception of China, where no termination date has been announced so far.

“We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience,” said Tony Bates, president of the Skype division at Microsoft.

Other benefits, he said, 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.

The transition to Skype has already begun with the release of Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows, which allows users to sign into Skype using a Microsoft account.

Now Messenger users just need to update to the latest version of Skype, sign in using a Microsoft account, and their Messenger contacts will be there, Microsoft said.

Formerly known as MSN Messenger, WLM was launched in 1999, with several enhancements taking place since then, including photo delivery, voice and video calls, and games.

The move reflects the firm's determination to focus its efforts on Skype, which replicates much of the functionality of WLM, according to the BBC.

Analysts said when a company has competing products that can result in cannibalisation it is often better to focus on a single one.

Skype's top-up services also offer the chance for Microsoft to generate revenue from its users and provides a more appropriate communications platform for TVs or the Xbox gaming console than WLM.

Microsoft is offering a tool to migrate WLM messenger contacts over to Skype to limit the number of users switching to rival platforms such as Google Talk by easing the transition.

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