messenger end of life

Messenger end of life. It’s time to update to Skype.

After 14 years of service – in November 2012 Microsoft announced that they would be retiring Messenger across the globe (with the exception of mainland China) and from March 15, 2013 all users will be forced to migrate to Skype.

First launched back in 1999 Microsoft created its own instant messaging (MSN Messenger) software to compete with ‘AIM’ from AOL. In the very first incarnation of the software Microsoft attempted to enable cross-platform communications between Messenger and AIM, however AOL continued to block access before Microsoft eventually gave up at the end of 1999 and concentrated on further developing its own software.

Over the years the software developed from a straight forwards instant messaging client into a fully fledged communicator. Along the way it introduced the ability to incorporate advertising, file transfers, PC-to-PC and PC-to-phone audio capabilities (using Net2Phone, one of the first VOIP providers) and video chat. Currently over 350 million active users utilise the Messenger platform.

Skype was purchased by Microsoft for $8.2bn (£5.2bn) in 2011. Originally created by Estonian developers (Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn, also the developers  of file sharing service Kazaa) it developed to a platform with over 600 million users across the world. Since the purchase Microsoft have been looking at ways of incorporating it in to its many platforms including Windows, Windows Mobile and it will shortly become the default Xbox Live Chat client.

Microsoft are now emailing users with the plan for retiring the software and giving users detailed instructions on how they can migrate across to Skype. The email reads:

“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.”

So, what’s happening between now and the retirement?

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 the retirement?
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.

Where can I learn more?
For more help on updating to Skype, please visit the Skype Support site.

* 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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