Technology giant Microsoft is all set to replace its age-old instant-messaging service, Windows Messenger, with communication software Skype. It has been only 18 months since Microsoft bought Skype in a multibillion-dollar deal, and now the operating system giant is set to make it its default messaging app.
It is expected that Windows Live Messenger will be withdrawn completely from the world (except for China) in March 2013. Microsoft is now ready to put its entire focus on Skype and promote it.
Windows Live Messenger, launched in 1999 under the name MSN Messenger, was Microsoft’s first attempt at providing a messaging service. It started as a text-only peer-to-peer service, but later added things like photo delivery, games and video calls. Research showed that Windows Live Messenger had 330 million active users online.
Interestingly, however, Windows Messenger was still the second-most popular messaging service and had more users than Skype at the start of this year. Yet there were signs that weren’t too positive for the messenger, as US audience had fallen to just 8.3 million new users and were dropping every year by almost 50 percent.
“When a company has competing products that can result in cannibalization it’s often better to focus on a single one,” said Brian Blau of consultancy Gartner.
“Skype’s top-up services offer the chance to monetize its users and Microsoft is also looking towards opportunities in the living room,” Blau said, adding that Skype can also be used for other Microsoft products, including the Xbox gaming console and the Windows 8 phone and sold to TV manufacturers owing to its popularity worldwide.
Microsoft is also looking to add Skype to all Windows 8 phones and would work hard to make it work on it, in an effort to steal users from other platforms. That is something Windows Live Messenger would be unable to do.
For users to migrate easily and smoothly from Windows Messenger to Skype, Microsoft is offering a migrating software program. However, migration may lead to user opting for other alternatives, which include Whataspp, Viber or Google Talk. However, Skype has strength following its deal with Facebook that has made it a free add-on for all users.