Microsoft has announced that Windows Live Messenger (WLM) will be turned off by March 2013 worldwide, with the exception of China. Windows Live Messenger (WLM) will be replaced with Skype messenger. It reflects the firm’s determination to focus its efforts on Skype. 

WLM was launched in 1999. That time it was known as MSN Messenger. Over time, photo delivery, videocalls and games were added to the package’s text-based messages. In 2009, it had 330 million active users. 

According to internet analysis firm Comscore, WLM still had more than double the number of Skype’s instant messenger facility at the start of 2012 and was second in popularity to Yahoo Messenger. WLM’s lost 48% of US audience and had fallen to 8.3 million unique users. At same time the number of Skype to instant message grew over the period. 

Skype’s top-up services offer the chance to monetise its users and Microsoft is also looking towards opportunities in the living room. Skype is offering a tool to migrate users WLM contacts to its service 

He also noted that the firm had opted to integrate Skype into its new Windows Phone 8 smartphone software, eclipsing the effort to integrate WLM into the message threads of the operating system’ previous version. 

To ease the changeover, Microsoft is offering a tool to migrate WLM messenger contacts over. 

There is a big risk that the move will encourage users to switch instead to rival platforms such as WhatsApp Messenger, AIM or Google Talk. But Microsoft is at least partially protected by its tie-up with Facebook last year. Skype video calls are now offered as an extra to the social network’s own instant messaging tool. 

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