Microsoft killing Windows Live Messenger, will replace it with Skype (Rumor confirmed)

[UPDATE:] After a report surfaced hinting at the fact that Microsoft is porting Windows Live Messenger accounts to Skype on Monday, Microsoft confirmed the reports by announcing  that Windows Live Messenger will be retired worldwide beginning in the first quarter of 2013. The only country where Messenger will be available is in mainland China. For existing Messenger users to access their account, they’ll be required to update their Skype client to version 6.0, and login with their Messenger account information. The announcement lists the following benefits of switching to Skype:

  • Broader device support for all platforms, including iPad and Android tablets 
  • Instant messaging, video calling, and calling landlines and mobiles all in one place
  • Sharing screens 
  • Video calling on mobile phones
  • Video calling with Facebook friends 
  • Group video calling 

[November 5]

We got a first glimpse of Microsoft’s plans for their $8.5 billion purchase of Skype late last month when Microsoft enabled Facebook, Hotmail, and Windows Live logins through Skype. Now The Verge has caught wind from his sources that Microsoft may be taking this a step further by replacing Windows Live Messenger with Skype altogether.

The announcement that Windows Live Messenger will be put to rest after thirteen years since its founding, first introduced as MSN Messenger in 1999, may come as early as this week. The report adds that Windows Live Messenger’s backend is slowly being integrated into Skype, which means that the only change for existing Windows Live users is that they’ll have to login through Skype’s client.

Skype has already been married into Windows 8 as a default native app to the Microsoft operating system, and Microsoft is free to do with Skype as it wishes — so the decision makes sense. The news of Windows Live Messenger’s retirement however isn’t official just yet and users have yet to be notified of Microsoft’s intentions, so as for the answer to how tightly integrated Skype will be with Microsoft’s products, we’ll have to update you once we hear back from a spokesperson.

Update 11-6-2012: Microsoft spokesperson has gotten back to us but declined to comment on this article.

Windows Live Messenger has been in use by 300 million users per month in 2010, although we suspect that number has dwindled due to new competition Google Talk and Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and of course the many mobile messaging apps on the market today. Skype’s CEO, Tony Bates revealed the latest figures show it had 250 million monthly users in May of this year.

Skype has been subject to a number of face lifts as of late. We’ve been content with the majority of the updates, but there have been just a couple of caveats. For instance all of the cross-platform integration means the Skype contact list is consequently flooded with friends, so users are either left to clean up with lists, deal with it, or forego using the new login integrations altogether. 

But the pros outweigh the cons. Messaging Facebook and Live Messenger friends on the Skype client is admittedly a far better experience. Skype acts as a prompt to video call friends you otherwise might not using Facebook. 

Pushing Windows Live Messenger clearly wasn’t in the forefront of Microsoft’s mind with the service since it’s Skype acquisition. With a robust messaging and video calling service like Skype, Microsoft has room to offer more comprehensive monetization strategies, like its conversation ads rolled out in June, as it doubles up Skype’s user base with existing Messenger users.