In a controversial move, Microsoft is set to close down its free iconic instant messenger service Windows Live Messenger, replacing it with Skype, the video chat service it bought in May last year. Windows Live Messenger was first released as MSN Messenger back in 1999, and is still behind only Yahoo! Messenger in the global IM market. However, Windows Live Messenger’s audience shrank by 48% last year, according to internet analysis firm Comscore. Windows Live Messenger is used by over 330 million people but Skype has over 600 million users.
Another key reason for the switch is Skype’s top-up services, which will give Microsoft the chance to monetise its users via premium tools such as group tools rather than through ad dollars.
The move has already angered many of its users, who fear they may now have to pay for services that were previously free.
Skype president Tony Bates made the announcement on the official Skype blog, prompting a number of complaints from users.
‘If you are going to do this, you should make group calls FREE!’ said one. ‘What about the games that are playable through WLM? How will we be able to access those via Skype?’ added another.
WLM will be turned off by March 2013 worldwide, with the exception of China.
Read the official Skype blog here