Redmond, Washington – Watch out for the Ides of March if you are still hanging around Microsoft’s Windows Messenger Live. Back in November, the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker has hinted that its Messenger application will be closed down within months, with users migrated onto Skype, which Microsoft acquired in October 2011. But now the company has confirmed an end-of-life date for the popular chat service, and began informing Messenger users that the service would go blank for the majority of users on March 15.
The software giant is reportedly commenced notifying more than 100 million users of the instant messenger via email, warning them that the 12 year-old service would officially be going away on March 15, and that they would be moved onto Skype, but it has yet to announce the Messenger deadline on its blogs or social media accounts.
However, on that date, the company will retire Messenger apps for all regions worldwide, with the exception of users in mainland China, who will still be able to use Messenger beyond March 15. The company said it is hoping to complete the merger in the first quarter of 2013.
The email was dispatched with the subject “Important info about your Messenger Account” and began by telling Messenger users, “It is time to update Messenger to Skype!”
“Update to Skype and sign in using a Microsoft Account (same as your Messenger ID) and all your Messenger contacts will be at your fingertips,” Microsoft said in its message to users. “You will be able to instant message and video chat with them just like before, and also discover new ways of staying in touch with Skype on your mobile and tablet device.”
Microsoft first announced the plans to merge Skype with Messenger in a Skype blog post in November. In fact, this news of the Messenger’s official shut down date was first reported by The Next Web and widely reported by others.
Among other things, the Skype service offers video and voice calling, as well as built-in instant messaging. Skype also offers broader device support for all platforms, including iPad and Android tablets. Users can share screens, make video calls on mobile devices, and have group video chats.
In addition to numerous features, Skype also allows users to call landlines and mobiles; and conduct video calls with Facebook friends. Meanwhile, Skype in October released a version that works on the newest tablet platform-Windows 8.
Nevertheless, merging two accounts is fairly straightforward. Once the March 15 deadline dawns, Messenger users will see a message on their desktop client asking them to “upgrade” to Skype and merge their Messenger contacts with the popular video chat and IM app. The desktop program will continue to work until March 15, after which there is no escape and you would not be able to use Messenger at all and must move over to Skype to continue chatting with friends.