This article was authored by John C. Tanner, and was originally posted on telecomasia.net.
Microsoft says it will shut down its Windows Live Messenger in 2013 in a move to encourage users to migrate to Skype, which is now capable of importing Messenger contacts.
The shutdown doesn’t include mainland China, where Messenger will still continue to be available via MSN China.
Microsoft didn’t give a reason for keeping Messenger going in China, but according to ZDNet (citing a Sina Tech article), a merger of Messenger and Skype is complicated by the fact that Microsoft offers both services in China via separate joint ventures. The terms of both JVs would have to be adjusted to allow for Skype to take over Messenger’s customers.
Skype president Tony Bates said in a blog post that Messenger users will get plenty of benefits from switching to Skype, including broader device support, screen sharing, video calls from mobile phones, video calls to Facebook friends and videoconferencing.
“We will work with you over the next few months to help you transition and offer information and help along the way,” Bates said.
The demise of Messenger is the latest move by Microsoft to integrate Skype more deeply into its product portfolio, to include seamless integration with its recently launched Windows 8 OS.
Whether that’s a good thing depends on who you ask. GigaOm’s Om Malik has been critical of Skype’s service since Microsoft bought it in October last year for $8.5 billion, and isn’t very optimistic about Microsoft’s ongoing attempt to co-opt Skype with its existing services.
From his blog Tuesday:
The service has been so busy trying to integrate itself with Microsoft, that its overall experience has started to suffer. Skype has been building out its own super nodes (made up of server clusters) and its own infrastructure. And in theory it is a good idea, but in reality the quality of the calls has started to degrade after you have been on the call for a few minutes. If you have used the service as long as I have, then you notice, the calls are taking longer to set-up.
Skype is just a shell of its former self — it is Microsoft in Skype’s clothing. And the latest news of transitioning Messenger users to Skype only reinforces that.