Microsoft confirms date for scuppering Windows Live Messenger

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Microsoft’s been pretty open about the fact that it’s scuppering its Windows Live Messenger Service in favour of Skype but now we have some idea of when it’s actually going to happen.

In an email sent to customers this week, the Redmond-based tech giant confirmed that it would be shutting down the service on 15 March.

In the mail, it says that the service will be shut down globally, except in mainland China where it will continue to operate. In the meantime Microsoft is urging the service’s users to migrate to Skype.

On 15th March 2013 we are retiring the existing Messenger service globally (except for mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available) and bringing the great features of Messenger and Skype together. Update to Skype and sign in using a Microsoft Account (same as your Messenger ID) and all your Messenger contacts will be at your fingertips. You’ll be able to instant message and video chat with them just like before, and also discover new ways of staying in touch with Skype on your mobile and tablet.

According to The Verge, that means 100-million Messenger users will move to Skype. We’re not sure that’s entirely accurate. It’s unlikely that all 100-million Windows Live Messenger users don’t have Skype accounts (in fact it’s more likely that very few don’t). So you probably shouldn’t expect a massive boost to Skype’s user numbers any time soon.

The move does make sense, given what Microsoft spent on Skype in 2011. Skype also offers a far more global application than Windows Live Messenger did, and gives people the ability to communicate with each other across a number of devices.

The mail also includes an FAQ section and detailing what will happen in the coming weeks and how to download Skype:

So, what’s happening between now and 15th March?
Messenger will continue to work as you know it today. If you are signed in with Messenger on your desktop you will see a banner notification to upgrade. When you click on the banner, an installer window will open with the request to upgrade. This will take you through our installer flow to install Skype and automatically uninstall Messenger.

So, what’s happening after 15th March?
Messenger users on desktops will not be able to sign in and will only be able to upgrade to Skype. If you attempt to sign in, a notification will appear, and if you continue, you will be taken through our installer flow to install Skype and automatically uninstall Messenger at the same time.

Can I update to Skype on my mobile?
Yes! Skype is available on iPhone, Android and soon on Windows Phone 8. We encourage you to download the latest Skype app on your mobile and then uninstall Messenger. You will be able to sign in to Skype on your iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 8 mobile apps with your Microsoft Account over the next few weeks. If you use another phone with Messenger on it, it will continue to work for a while.

To get group video chat, you’ll need a Skype Premium subscription.
* Newer versions of Messenger will be able to receive the optional upgrade notifications. Older versions will not receive the notifications and you will have to download Skype manually.

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