In November last year, media reports caught hold of Microsoft's plan to retire its Live Messenger service in favour of Skype. Microsoft promptly confirmed the plans saying it "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)."
Now, we have a definite date.
The Next Web reports that Microsoft has sent out emails to all Live Messenger (or simply Messenger as Microsoft sometimes likes to call it) confirming that they will be migrated to Skype on March 15 and the service will be shutdown in all countries except China the same day.
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.
Skype, which was acquired by Microsoft in May 2011, has been synonymous with voice/ video calling since launch but, of course, has text-based chatting (IM) support built-in as well. Skype 6 paved the way for Windows Live Messenger integration
by letting users login with their Microsoft credentials, aside from adding Facebook integration as well.
Microsoft also included a brief FAQ in the email, which is reproduced in part below courtesy The Next Web.
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.
** 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.