Microsoft said on Monday that Messenger is officially retired and no longer available or supported on most Mac and Windows operating systems. The news isn't much of a shocker given that the Redmond company has talked about its closure for more than a year. But given that the client has been around since the late 1990s, it's just a little hard to say goodbye to an old friend.
To some degree, it's not really a goodbye. The company is now pushing users of the long-standing chat client to update to the latest Skype client and log in with their Microsoft-based credentials. In doing so, not only can users continue to chat with their old Messenger friends, but with new ones added to Skype and even those on Facebook once the client is linked to the social network.
"We want everyone who uses Messenger to have a positive experience. Upgrading to Skype can help you communicate in flexible ways, and be connected on more devices and platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, Windows Phone, Android and soon Blackberry," said Parri Munsell from Skype in February. "As Messenger users upgrade to Skype on their desktops, we also encourage them to download Skype on their mobile devices, and sign in with their Microsoft account to check out all that Skype has to offer."
Microsoft's Messenger, aka MSN Messenger, launched in 1999 in the midst of AIM and ICQ battling for IM dominance. Eventually the two killed each other off after AOL purchased ICQ developer Mirabilis just one year prior, giving Messenger plenty of room to grow. Microsoft's chat client 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.
Messenger's demise was made apparent when Microsoft purchased Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011. But looking back, the acquisition made sense: Messenger was essentially just an IM client serving 330 million users whereas Skype added VoIP connectivity on top of the IM foundation. Skype, which initially launched in August 2003, also had a huge following, totaling 170 million users at the time of the announcement who made over 207 billion minutes of voice and video calls in 2010. That's a lot of dollar signs.
"Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world."
For more information about moving Messenger contacts over to the latest Skype client, head here. The Messenger service will continue to remain online in mainland China, Microsoft said.