Microsoft is slowly but steadily transforming the former voice over IP software Skype into the company's main messaging platform that covers more than just making calls to other Skype users. One of the latest moves to realize that vision is the merging of Microsoft Messenger with Skype.
A recent Skype update started the transformation as Microsoft added options to Skype to sign in to the software with a Microsoft Account - former Windows Live account -instead of a Skype account. This in theory enabled all Messenger users to sign in to Skype with their Messenger account. Messenger users who sign in with their account will notice that all of their Messenger contacts are available in Skype.
Microsoft confirmed today that the company's Messenger will be retired in the first quarter of 2013 when it will be replaced by Skype. The only exception is China where the Messenger will still be available.
Our goal remains to deliver the best communications experience for everyone, everywhere. We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience. We will retire Messenger in all countries worldwide in the first quarter of 2013 (with the exception of mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available).
Microsoft notes that Messenger users will benefit from additional features that Skype makes available, including group video calling, sharing screens, instant messaging, broader device support and the option to call landlines and mobiles.
Once you have merged your Messenger account with Skype, you will notice that your Messenger buddy list is already synchronized with Skype and available under Contacts. A click on the All link under Contacts gives you the option to filter contacts by type, so that you can only display our Messenger contacts here, those who are online, from Facebook, or those from Skype.
Skype as it stands now is missing some of the features that Messenger is currently offering, for instance the ability to watch photos or Youtube videos together, or the option to change the font of the application. It is also not clear what Microsoft intends to do with Windows Messenger for Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8's messaging application.
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