What began many years ago as Microsoft Messenger and evolved into Windows Live Messenger (or simply, WLM) is now being put to rest. Microsoft has officially announced that Skype will now officially replace Messenger for instant messaging, audio and video calling. As of sometime in the first quarter of 2013, WLM will be shuttered and no longer functional — unless you happen to be located in mainland China (where Skype is verboten, so to speak).
Microsoft purchased Skype in October of 2011 for $8.5 billion, and the consolidation has been anticipated by many. Both Skype and Windows Live Messenger share many of the same features, including instant messaging, and voice- and video-calling. The advantage Skype offers is a clear path to monetization, particularly for expanded features like a dedicated phone number to accept incoming calls, voice mail, and international calling plans.
But what really tilted the scale in favor of Skype is the broad device support. Skype is available on just about anything you can connect to the Internet — Windows, for sure, but Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, Android, and other devices.
What's the impact to you?
If you use Windows Live Messenger (or Microsoft Messenger on a Mac), prepare to transition to Skype. Sometime during the first quarter of 2013, your WLM program will no longer connect.
Download and install the latest version of Skype and you'll see an option to login using your Microsoft account. Use this, not your Skype account.
Next, you'll be prompted to sign in to your Microsoft account. Use your Windows Live Messenger login information.
Now you have a choice. If you're already using Skype, you can sync your contacts with an existing Skype account. If you haven't used Skype yet, first crawl out from under that rock you've been hiding under, then select New to Skype. You could also use the “New…” link if you simply don't want to merge your WLM and your existing Skype accounts.
In my case, I had two Skype accounts, and had to choose one of them to merge my WLM contacts into.
Once you've logged into your Skype account, you're given one last chance to either confirm or cancel the merge. Note that once you've merged the accounts, you cannot “unmerge” them.
Once the merge is complete, you'll see a new Messenger contacts group. Curiously, mine is empty. Hmmm…
Once your accounts are merged, you now sign into Skype using your Microsoft account information (username and password) and not your old Skype account info.
This is where it gets a little screwy. For me, I was unable to sign in to Skype on my iPhone or iPad using my Microsoft account, but my old Skype account info was still working.
On top of that, while my Skype and Facebook contacts were still showing up, my Windows Live Messenger contacts (and the new group) have gone AWOL. Just for kicks, I signed into Microsoft Messenger on my MacBook Pro and it signed me out of Skype. But in Messenger, it shows zero contacts.
Now it's entirely possible that I didn't have any contacts in WLM under that account. I haven't used WLM in ages, and it's not critical either way. Are there any brave WLM & Skype users out there who want to test this merge process and let me know if it works correctly for them? Leave a comment and let me know!