back to article Microsoft and Skype to axe world's most popular IM client early 2013

Microsoft’s Instant Messenger will be sacrificed for Skype by the end of March 2013, it has finally emerged. The software giant’s Skype business has blogged Windows Live Messenger will be “retired” in the first quarter of 2013, except in mainland China. Skype said it will work with Windows Live Messenger users during the next …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Folk still using IM clients?

    I am surprised as any time I log in to my client (pidgin, works with Yahoo & MSN) it is deserted with all of the folk having migrated to Facebook.

    Not saying that was a smart move, but that seems to be the way it has gone. So how many folk out there still use IM other than FB to any degree?

    How many have just abandoned IM altogether now that FB has its controlling tentacles in their friends?

    1. Keith 72

      Re: Folk still using IM clients?

      I can chat to my facebook friends from skype. Neat huh - it looks like I'm working!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Folk still using IM clients?

        The main problem with Skype is you have to place so much trust in it - it's not just closed source, but proprietary protocol and proprietary encryption. The software could be doing absolutely anything on your machine and you'd have little or no idea.

        Maybe if someone writes an apparmor profile which sandboxes it to death, I might try it... otherwise, having to run it in its own VM seems like the only way to protect yourself (and is too annoying to bother with)

        1. dssf

          Re: Folk still using IM clients? How about a disposable computer or cam device?

          Mainly because i am sick of the risks and shenanigans, i do not want snoop -capable apps on my machi e. And, i am using a tablet to reduce my hardware exposure to the net. I am not protecting my privacy as mch as i want or should, but i am keeping my workiing machine off the grid farrrrr more than ever before.

          (If i were wealthy, i would put a capture or kill bount on ANYone spying on or tampering with e property of others if no explicitly valid warrant or similar existed. No fishing expeditions allowed, just real, live, verifiable, specific actions. But, just saying THAT is likelyvto undermine any of the upvotable stuu i just wrote...)

          Sacrificial or air gapping devices could help individuals and the economy, but at financial expense and an i crease in e waste.

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Folk still using IM clients?

      I have Pidgin and it's possible to put Facebook IM friends on there too (with a little fiddling). But, basically, things like texting have killed off IM. If you're in some niche group with international members, they probably have their own messaging facility on forums, or some game, or whatever. Otherwise, it's personal contacts who'll be on your Facebook or have you Skype, etc.

      Skype is killing off plain text IM, certainly, by doing what NONE of the IM networks managed to do - simple video/audio chat, no matter the OS or network in between. Hell, they even do IM too so you lose nothing by moving over.

      And when MSN Messenger was rebranded Windows Live, I noticed a huge drop-off in people on there back then. And now Google Talk has hit hard too, because people are often logged into their GMail or similar anyway or collecting it from their Android phones. I honestly only keep AOL, ICQ, MSN, YIM, et al accounts on my Pidgin because it keeps things like my (unused) Hotmail/Yahoo accounts live.

      Basically, IM has been attacked from all angles because it failed to evolve. IRC was massive at one time and though it's still around, it failed to evolve and is still stuck in the 80's (it's funny to still see no-IRC clauses in dedicated server policies). Similarly, the only decent reason to use Jabber was because it integrated lots of disparate servers and IM networks together but by the time it came it was too late (something that could have been solved with open standards arriving and being supported more quickly). And it doesn't generate money for anyone, so nobody ever invested in it. It was always a side-project to some marvellous scheme or software (e.g. Skype IM, AOL IM, etc.).

      Skype was a breath of fresh air and solved the problem that (still) not a lot of people have solved in terms of audio/video. I've still never got a video-IM to go through a NAT yet, unless it was Skype or I set up outside servers to bounce off (and the standards change all the time, and the open-source clients can't keep up - hell, there still isn't decent video-IM integration for ANY of the huge networks in open-source IM clients). Skype even makes money, which is a shocker. I'm not sure I'd ever pay for it, even as good as it is.

      IM is dying quickly. People use their phones more than their computers now and a lot of the time it's not even possible to use those IM networks from a phone (or you need N apps to connect to N different protocols!). And if you're holding a phone and want to talk to a friend? Use those thousands of free texts to just text them anyway.

      This is actually one of the more sensible MS moves that I've seen. I was half-expecting it to go the other way and try to crowbar Skype into MSN. My biggest use of plain-text IM nowadays is to talk to the Google Translate bots over XMPP. It's so much easier to copy/paste the text than it is to load up the website each time. That's about it.

      IM is dead. Skype will be too if they change the way it works (and they know it, and will be safe from competitors right up until they try that). And even Skype are having problems with their service over mobile data because of the competition (e.g. telecoms companies). Unfortunately, the replacements all rely on the telecoms services too. The FSF have a Skype replacement as one of their top priorities. Still haven't seen ANYTHING from that yet.

      For years, I wanted Pidgin's functionality to be merged into Opera (which already does mail, news and IRC). But now all I want is video, audio and IM in one program (Opera would be good, but I can suffer a second program). Open standards would help. NAT-breaking is a MUST (even in this nearly-but-not-quite-yet post-IPv6 era). Multi-platform is essential (Android phone + Windows PC). Skype is the only thing even close to doing that, and is making a profit.

      IM networks had 20+ years to get video or even audio going reliably, or publish their protocols so networks could integrate, and they could have cashed in on it too. They didn't bother, and in some cases still haven't, so I have little sympathy for them. My parents know how to "Skype" their granddaughter. That's after decades of having two IT-gurus available to them for free (called "sons") but nothing else got any use. And "skype" now means "videophone" like we intended in the 60's. Hell, you can even buy a "phone" to use for it.

      IM? Killed off by telecoms and Skype.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Folk still using IM clients?

        "IRC was massive at one time and though it's still around, it failed to evolve and is still stuck in the 80's"

        IRC still is pretty big , its just that your average man on the street doesn't know about it. But in certain circles its huge. And the fact that its still pretty command line text based is actually the appeal to a lot of people - it keeps anyone non tech savvy well away from it.

        1. Chika

          Re: Folk still using IM clients?

          IRC was good. What it didn't have were the bells and whistles and big names that the WWW had, so the punters went to wherever the sparkles were. These days, I rarely venture on there as most of the channels seem to be silent except for bots.

          I never really took to MSN or ICQ or the million other workalikes out there. I've recently started using Twitter but I'm not totally sold on that either. The only setup I was really happy with was Usenet, and that's dying too. The consumer end of the Internet really is fad driven...

        2. Greg J Preece

          Re: Folk still using IM clients?

          IRC still is pretty big , its just that your average man on the street doesn't know about it. But in certain circles its huge. And the fact that its still pretty command line text based is actually the appeal to a lot of people - it keeps anyone non tech savvy well away from it.

          Amen to that. After pretty much every other IM network got invaded by the newbies back when AOL discs were being handed out in PC World, IRC managed to stay "pure" by being bloody inpenetrable no non-nerds. I actually have an IRC session open on the other monitor right now, and you can still make any idle channel sing by popping out a few choice Monty Python quotes.

          Not sure about IM being dead to be honest. Pretty much everyone I know uses some form of IM system daily; even my retired dad has chatted to me on FB. SMS and IM are slowly going to merge together, I reckon (see the new mobile spec being bandied around the other day).

          And bear in mind, the FB chat that everyone has "moved" to is essentially the same system underneath. You can talk to Facebook's chat servers via XMPP, just like you can with WLM and Google Talk.

    3. Joe Cooper

      Re: Folk still using IM clients?

      Same experience. Used to be everyone I knew was on MSN, but not MSN is always deserted. It wasn't like this last year.

    4. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Folk still using IM clients?

      I never abandoned IM because I never bothered to use it to begin with. I tried out Skype four or five years ago, wasn't all that impressed, and blew it off. The privacy and security issues didnt help any, either.

      Call me weird, call me old-fashioned, but when I need to communicate with someone in real time, I prefer to just pick up the phone. IM, Facebook and other "chat" systems just seemed to slow me down as I could never type coherently as fast as I could speak.

      1. Spoddyhalfwit

        Re: Folk still using IM clients?

        Mike Flugennock

        "Call me weird, call me old-fashioned, but when I need to communicate with someone in real time, I prefer to just pick up the phone"

        You old-fashioned weirdo!

        Not sure what is with MS these days. Windows 7 is generally very well received, so they come up with Windows 8 and break everything. Messenger is apparently the most popular IM client so they kill it off.

        I'll miss it as I use it alot (we use it within the company too to communicate between offices, send web links and bits of code etc around). But I'm sure I'll find something else to do that just as well.

        1. The FunkeyGibbon

          Re: Folk still using IM clients?

          MS will try to sell you Lync or Lync365. That's what we use.

          1. Eddy Ito

            Re: Folk still using IM clients?

            @The FunkeyGibbon

            I understand the next steps for Lync is integrating parts of Skype. It wouldn't surprise me if they didn't merge nearly completely with only a minor feature set change to differentiate between enterprise and consumer products.

      2. largefile

        Re: Folk still using IM clients?

        The beauty of chat over telephone calls is the ability to walk away from the chat for a moment and not create a lull. I can craft a response, go grab a cup of coffee and come back and see the reply. It's "near" real time whereas a voice call is real time. They both have a place but chat is more productive for me, especially when the information being exchanged is more casual.

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  3. measmyself

    Whatsapp is my primary messaging service on mobile, used more than facebook messenger, texts or even calls.

    1. Joe Harrison

      The trouble with whatsapp

      The trouble with whatsapp (and several of its clones such as Telefonica Tu-Me) is that the very first thing they want to do is to go into your phone's address book, raid all the contacts, and upload them somewhere. Which just makes me nervous somehow.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The trouble with whatsapp

        Like Skype then ?

      2. dssf

        Re: The trouble with whatsapp

        Capture or kill or maim bounty could apply nicely on such perps. But, maybe it woul be safer or more exciting if threr were available some polluted contact db so people could falsely self-associate with people ad places that could embarrass those address book raiders. Or, at least utterly waste their time and money.

        Utter ASSHOLES are the types who raid orvtamper with peoples' machines, and, other than taking dow bonafide active, worst-of-worst criminals, VERY FEW people have legit reason to be in or on someone else's devices or data.

        Is there a legal way for people to contaminate their machines in a way that only infects or takes revenge only upon snoops and sniffers? I am not talking about transmission as in wild, aimless shooting sprees, but the computer equivalent of "Teeth". Knocking is one thing. Raiding and snooping are different altogether.

        Computerata dentata... Then, when the repair team helps the snoops restore a machine, one might hear, "Before we get started, are you SURE you don't want to tell us how this happened?" hehehe

    2. Test Man

      Whatsapp is completely pointless - someone I know had a friend who wanted her to install it so that they could talk. I simply told her to send via e-mail - seeing as smartphones are now quite popular and nearly all smartphone users have their e-mail accounts set up on it already, simply use that. No need for any other external app.

  4. Jess
    Thumb Down

    I would avoid merging your accounts for now.

    It doesn't appear to merge them, just to prevent you logging in both at the same time.

    I tried the new Skype with the windows live option, it just says cookies must be allowed on your browser, WTF this was the Skype client, not the website.

    With my Skype login, it throws me out of MSN on another machine, and doesn't show my MSN contacts.

    They thought this one through.

    1. Test Man

      Re: I would avoid merging your accounts for now.

      It merges them for me. All my Windows Live Messenger friends are shown in Skype. I can even filter it to only show Windows Live Messenger friends.

      1. Christopher Rogers

        Re: I would avoid merging your accounts for now.

        Its not working for me.

  5. magickmark

    What if you use both?

    I wonder what will happen if you use Messenger and Skype will it merge the two together or will you have to keep logging from one account to another? What if want to keep the two accounts seperate (one buisness and one personal lets say) I wonder how it will manage that?

    Of course I could use something like IM+ I expect, though personaly I prefer to use the native client so the two accounts are distinct

    @Eadon, I dont think its about the skills of it engineers its about the market share, branding, mind share if I recall correctly (and please correct me if I am wrong) Messanger has about 100 million users and Skype has 280 million this is what MS wanted.

    There is also the aspect that MS wanted to scoop up the competition as Skype is used a lot in the enterpirse and we all know that MS has a big share of this and nodoubt were unwilling to concede a slice of that to anyone else.

    1. Test Man

      Re: What if you use both?

      If you use Skype AND if you log in using your Microsoft account, you will see both Skype and Windows Live Messenger contacts (although you can filter the display of the list).

      If you use Skype BUT log in using your usual Skype account, you will only see your Skype contacts.

      If you use Windows Live Messenger and log in with your Microsoft account, you will only see your Windows Live Messenger friends.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What if you use both?

        What if your Skype and Windows Live are separate accounts with the same e-mail address?

  6. JeffyPooh

    Daft Decision Making at MS lately

    What they should have done is migrate Messenger into a skinned version of Skype. Boil the frogs slowly, everyone is happy. Best of both worlds with near-zero cost. Duh.

    What they've done is daft. Not as utterly daft as the entire Win 8 fiasco, but still daft.

    They need to add a 'Decision Inverter' to their internal Decision Making processes. Keep everything the same, just invert all decisions as the last step before implementation. This one easy change will instantly improve their decision making from 80% bad to 80% good.

  7. PaulR79
    Thumb Down

    IM services - just services, let me use my own client

    During the early days of IM dreams when ICQ was massive (despite an awful number system for users and having to add every contact again if you reinstalled) I was there, then my friends started going elsewhere so I signed up to other things to keep in contact. As a result of that I've now got accounts on ICQ, AIM, MSN / Live whatever, Yahoo, GTalk and Skype.

    If it wasn't for programs like Pidgin and Trillian I'd have long since gone crazy with the need to install separate clients for maybe one or two friends. One less client might sound like an ideal way to go but I'm not happy with it being pushed to Skype as It's a horrid program. Luckily Trillian also connects to Skype. It seems very stupid to be killing the most popular service and hoping the users will all just accept it and go to Skype but then this is the same company that has just pushed out Windows 8.

  8. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Kill off IM - check.

    Get everyone onto a free Skype service - check.

    Wait 6 months - check

    Start charging people for those services - check

    Bigger quarter end bonus checks - check

    1. Drakkenson

      @kill off IM - check

      If they do that, I and many others will go elsewhere, (and there will be something, even if there isn't now) because many people, my boss included, will be unwilling to pay for it. After all, if you have to pay for it you may as well use the phone. It's not like phone fees haven't been getting cheaper, after all.

      1. Test Man

        Re: @kill off IM - check

        Why do you think they'll charge for IM? IM on Skype has been free for years. It's free everywhere else. There's no chance they will ever charge for it. Merely merging two systems isn't an indicator that they will.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't want my msn contacts added to my skype...

    1. Piro Silver badge

      Shit out of luck.

    2. Test Man

      Then don't merge them. Simple, really.

  10. Newt_Othis
    Thumb Up

    Artistic skills

    May I just congratulate you on the skilfully photoshopped image used for this story on the front page!

  11. John H Woods Silver badge


    ... is what all the kids seem to be using. Everything else seems to have become a desert. I used to use Trillian on Android to be logged into the dozen or so IM accounts I have collected over the years, but for 2 years I only got messages via IBM Sametime (work) or Facebook. Everything else, including yahoo, google talk, and messenger, went quiet over that period.

  12. dean.collins

    poor reporting

    Shame its such poor reporting....they are actually closing Skype and "rebranding windows messenger"

    Basically skype is dropping the p2p architecture and is going to be using the old messenger architecture with MS servers sitting in the middle of all traffic......

    I've been waiting for someone to announce a "new and improved" P2P chat application to counteract this very problem.

    Quick someone put a call out to Kim Dotcom and get him working on it.

    1. Rukario

      Re: poor reporting

      So Gabon was the "small African nation" that Eadon was referring to above (12:14).

  13. Stevie


    IM Annie, AOL Sue, Dunno what's happened to the friends I knew,

    Hey hey, Baby have a TXT on me.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Offline Messaging

    Surely the biggest drawback of Skype over the competition was the lack of true off-line messaging capability?

    Has this changed in recent versions?

  15. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Isn't skype on around its 3rd owners now with none of the previous ones able to make money from it? its good because its easy to set up and free, i use it to video chat to relatives who live overseas but never used it for IM or to chat to my friends in this country as i get virtually unlimited SMS a month so if i want to message rather than talk i just text.

    Not really sure how microsoft are intending on making money from the Skype purchase, if they make it Windows only they will loose vast amounts of user from iOS and Android that will just go elsewhere. And very few people would realistically start paying for it, so i guess that just leaves annoying adverts like they put on MSN/Windows live messenger clients

  16. S 15
    Thumb Down

    Skype's business strategy

    Used Skype a fair bit over the years. Recently while on holiday in the UK, decided to try out the Skype "call-in" service where you get a local number people can call you on, so friends and family could call me easily.

    Signed up for the minimum 3 months, used the service maybe 2-3 times (basically it didn't work well - knew that was a risk but hey, that's life). Made the assumption that the service would lapse, having signed up for a specific period, but then I got a mail the other day thanking me for "renewing" the service and letting me know that they had helped themselves to another 15 euros from my credit card.

    When I tried to cancel this I was told that despite that fact I had not used the service in the period since my "renewal" -

    "The mere allocation of an Online Number (also known as a Skype Number) to you means that the product has been used"

    Yes I know there was probably a check box somewhere when I signed up that let me opt-out of this, but since when was it OK to base your business strategy on people forcing people opt-out unless they wanted to stay on the service forever?

    Simple lesson - Never give your credit card to a company that treats its existing customers like suckers to be milked...

    1. dssf

      Re: Skype's business strategy firewall card?

      Is there where you are some sort of money card that mimics a credit card, except onlyy you and the issuer know it is just a rechargable, no-ID connected money card? Banks and issuers need to protect consumers more. Unfortunately, marketing and law enforcement will actively kill or subvert or piggyback on such protective measures.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Coming soon

    I expect that with 2/3 market share that a lawsuit is inevitable and that Microsoft will be forced not to bundle the Skype client on its products and provide a screen that allows users to pick other IM clients.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    I have issues with the title, even the 280 million claimed for Skype is small next to the figures for the Chinese system "QQ".

    The Skype audio and video codecs are much better than QQ's though, or possibly it is the GFWoC causing the problems.

    1. pompurin

      Isn't QQ full of malware, ETware and other miscreants? I looked at it on a Chinese lads laptop and couldn't believe it was so popular. It looked awful. Then again that is what happens when you have a captive market unable to go elsewhere.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The "Full" domestic Chinese version IS full of spyware, but the "International" version isnt, as can easily be seen by the vast difference in install file sizes, the domestic version is so bad it has KILLED a couple of low spec computers that I know of.

        It also includes the Chinese hacked version of IE - called 360, and a 360 badged security suite which seems to be DESIGNED to install and protect malware - certainly when trying to remove malware from the wifes PC, it repeatedly blocked my attempts and when I managed to remove the stuff in "safe mode"; promptly reinstalled it when I rebooted (and cannot be easily removed itself).

        Most Chinese people I know only download the 2009 IM beta version, which is spyware free, then allow it to be patched up to the current version

        QQ has some advantages over Skype, but as mentioned, the A/V codecs are as good, so it can get a bit ropey if the bandwidth isnt available - also the QQ website seems to be run through a 32Kb dial-up connection, it is soooooo sssllllooooowwwwwww, I usually download a new installer (when needed), via Brothersoft.

  19. RubberJohnny


    I need to open one app to talk to Messenger people, another for WhatsApp, another for iMessage, and FB Messenger, Skype and I can't even see Blackberry messages. Then there are texts and emails. All with separate clients. That's a mess by anyone's standard.

    Time for one brilliant startup to create a single app on all platforms that will consume messages from anywhere, possibly by using gateway servers. Hell I might even have a go at proof of concept myself.

    I'll see you in court.

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