The Verge reports that Microsoft is gearing up to retire Windows Live Messenger in a few months. The news arrives by way of unnamed sources who claim that the announcement will be made soon – perhaps sometime this week – and that Skype will be pushed as the new default instant messaging client.
Live Messenger's death has been expected since Microsoft's announcement that it purchased Skype for $8.5 billion back in May 2011. At the time, critics were afraid that the Redmond company would disrupt the VoIP service's momentum by limiting or even severing support for non-Windows platforms. But Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer came forward and said Microsoft had no intentions of cutting off other platforms.
"I said it, I mean it," Ballmer told reporters after the conference call. "We will continue to support other platforms. We are one of the few companies that has the track record of doing this beforehand. We have done a lot of work bringing Office to the Mac and we’ve done a lot of great work with other Apple devices. Fundamental to the value proposition of communications is to reach people whether they’re on your device or not."
So far Skype has remained true to its roots despite Microsoft's acquisition. If anything, it's become more mainstream now that the v6.0 client features integrated Live Messenger support. Users can now merge their Microsoft and Skype accounts, thus combining Skype, Live Messenger and Facebook connectivity into one streamlined service on their phone, tablet or desktop.
Windows Live Messenger first launched as MSN Messenger back in 1999 during a time when AIM (AOL's instant messenger) and ICQ were at the top of the IM client chain. The service switched over to the Windows Live Messenger label back in 2005 with the launch of version 8. Microsoft eventually integrated the IM service into the Xbox 360 Spring 2007 Dashboard Update back in May 2007.
Just recently the death of Windows Live Messenger became apparent with the launch of Windows 8. The Redmond company released a Modern UI app for Skype, but so far it hasn't released a version for Live Messenger.