Microsoft updated the official Skype blog on Tuesday with confirmation that the Windows Live Messenger client will be retired. The news arrives just one day after unnamed sources revealed Microsoft's Messenger plans, and after Tom's posted its own Windows Live Messenger Tips & Tricks guide.
After serving users since 1999, Microsoft said that the long-standing Windows-based chat client will be retired in all countries worldwide (except for mainland China) in the first quarter of 2013. The news certainly isn't surprising, as its death became apparent after the release of Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows which placed Messenger connectivity alongside Facebook's own chat service within the popular blue VoIP client.
"Our goal remains to deliver the best communications experience for everyone, everywhere," said Tony Bates, president of the Skype division at Microsoft. "We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience. We will work with you over the next few months to help you transition and offer information and help along the way."
Windows Live Messenger first launched as MSN Messenger back in 1999 during a time when AIM (AOL's instant messenger) and ICQ were at the top of the IM client chain. The service switched over to the Windows Live Messenger label back in 2005 with the launch of version 8. Microsoft eventually integrated the IM service into the Xbox 360 Spring 2007 Dashboard Update back in May 2007.
"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," Bates said. "To help you learn how to get the most out of Skype, be on the lookout for some special offers later this year as you join your Messenger friends in the migration."
The benefits for old-school Messenger users who are now being pushed into using Skype include a broader device support for all platforms including iPad and Android tablets, video calling on mobile phones, group video calling, video calling with Facebook friends and more. However to see Messenger contacts in the current Skype build, users must sign on using their Microsoft account as Bates indicated, not their Skype account.
To get started, Bates provides instructions here.