Microsoft on Tuesday officially announced the retirement of Windows Live Messenger. The legacy system will be fully phased out for all users in the first quarter of 2013. In a company blog post Microsoft President of Skype Division Tony Bates said the program would phase out everywhere but mainland China.

Windows Messenger Retired For Skype

Microsoft has not yet announced when the program will end in China. According to the company’s blog post Windows Live Messenger users will be moved over to Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows.

If you recently updated to Skype 6.0 you probably noticed a new feature which allows users to sync Messenger contacts with Skype. The Windows Surface/Windows 8 Skype app also helps convert users.

Microsoft also tells users that a “special offer” will be given to Messenger users “later this year.” Microsoft has not yet revealed what the “special offer” might include. It is likely that Messenger users who make the switch will receive free calling credits or various other discounts on Skype premium features.

Microsoft has a long and storied history with its Messenger Live platform which debuted 12 years ago. Messenger began as a simple messenger platform before eventually adding SMS features. Most recently the platform had integrated with Facebook and Twitter.

According to Microsoft’s Brian Hall Skype “became the best way to have video and voice calls (in addition to also letting you IM).”

Hall also revealed:

“We will enable Skype to work better with than Messenger ever has too.”

Microsoft Messenger debuted at a time when “social engagement” referred to AIM, ICQ and Windows Live messaging. Since that time social chat has grown up. With most users relying on Facebook messenger, text messaging and even video conferencing these days it appears as if MSN Live Messenger simply lived out its life cycle.

While Microsoft has not yet made an official announcement it is likely that Windows Live Messenger for iOS devices and other Windows Live apps will also be phased out in Q1 2013.

Have you continued to use the Windows Live Messenger application or have you long abandoned the instant messaging program for more advanced forms of social communication?


[Image via windows8core]