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Microsoft shoots Windows Live Messenger, brings in Skype IM

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Microsoft is reported to be retiring its popular messaging client in favour of Skype.

Long-time Microsoft watcher Tom Warren writes here that the Windows Live Messenger service is to be wound up in the coming months and folded into Skype. An announcement is expected possibly as soon as this week.

The Register contacted Microsoft about the move, but it remained unable to comment at time of publication.

Windows Live Messenger is one of Microsoft’s most popular web properties and, at last count, the web’s number-one web client.

Windows Live Messenger accounted for 40.6 per cent of installed IM clients in June 2011 according to software management specialist OPSWAT here (warning: PDF), with Skype second on 27.39 per cent.

Microsoft claimed 330 million active IM users every month on the 10th anniversary of its client in 1999. The Skype service, meanwhile, has 170 million users.

Windows Live Messenger has been though many changes and updates since 1999 and among today’s features is web conferencing capability and VoIP calls. Alas, for Microsoft’s battle-hardened IM, that's Skype's core feature and a key reason Microsoft spent $8.5bn in order to own Skype in 2011.

Microsoft has since made it clear that its future on VoIP and messaging is Skype. Just weeks ago, the company was gushing over Skype for Windows 8, saying it'll be "immersive and effortless". Skype for Windows 8 is permanently on, with users able to receive calls or instant messages from Skype contacts without specifically having to log in. Windows Live Messenger for Windows 8, on the other hand, has not received much attention or fanfare.

Windows Live Messenger was the first major IM client and Microsoft fought bitterly for the loyalty of millions of users during the early 2000s in order to establish it and make it today’s number one. It was only under great pressure that Microsoft and its rivals of the time - Yahoo! and AOL - agreed to allow interoperability on their IMs. Google launched its own IM client in 2005 as the big three of the day agreed to work together.

Over the decade, Microsoft has rebranded its Messenger in keeping with the times – originally starting as MSN Messenger, today the client is called Windows Live Messenger, even after the killing off of the Windows Live brand...

It has also updated the IM to include video, audio and telephony and moved away from its initial tight integration with Windows. Now Messenger is able to run on non-Windows clients - OS X, iOS, Symbian, Blackberry and, of course, Microsoft’s own mobile operating system.

Today, Windows Live Messenger can connect to Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn and Xbox 360 using Windows Live Profile. ®

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