Microsoft updates timeline for moving 'millions' from Messenger to Skype

Microsoft updates timeline for moving 'millions' from Messenger to Skype

Summary: Microsoft is forging ahead in moving its Messenger user base to Skype. Here's the updated timeline for its aggressive plan.

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Microsoft is moving ahead with its aggressive plans to move users on its Messenger instant-messaging service to Skype.

messengertoskype

Late last year, officials said to expect Microsoft to retire Messenger in all countries in the first quarter of 2013 with the exception of mainland China. The new timetable is slightly lengthier, but not much.

Officials are now saying they plan to discontinue Messenger for a "test group" comprising about one percent of the installed base of "tens of millions" on March 15. Starting April 8, Microsoft will begin phasing out Messenger for the remaining users, starting with those in English-speaking countries, and ending with Portuguese (for some unspecified reason). The entire "retirement" should be completed by April 30 or so.

The phase out is for the desktop version of Messenger, said Parri Munsell, Director of Marketing Integration for Skype. Munsell said that the desktop version of Messenger represents the "vast majority" of the Messenger user base. Skype officials are not providing a timetable as to when Microsoft plans to retire Messenger on mobile and/or multivendor platforms.

Microsoft has been pushing desktop Messenger users to move to Skype for the past couple of months via pop-ups that show up when users sign into Messenger. To proactively move over, users can sign into Skype using their Microsoft accounts, which are the same as their Messenger IDs, and Messenger contacts will be automatically added to Skype so that both Skype and Messenger contacts are merged. (Users can opt to see only their Messenger contacts by selecting "All" in the contacts list and then "Messenger.") The Skype team has posted some introductory how-to guidance on this. Here's more help on mergingMessenger and Skype accounts.

(An aside: Those using Skype on Mac clients, Windows 8/Windows RT clients and Windows Phone 8 already can sign in today with their Messenger/Microsoft IDs. In case you're wondering when Microsoft will update the WP8 Skype beta and/or move to a final version, company officials are not saying. I asked.)

If you're like me and not so keen on the Messenger-to-Skype move, you can keep using Messenger until Microsoft shuts you off from the service, sometime between March 15 and April 30 or so. Once that happens, you won't be able to sign into Messenger any longer.

If you're using Messenger via a third-party instant messaging service -- like Trillian, Digsby, Pidgin or IM++, for example -- you will have a somewhat longer reprieve from being shut off.

"Third-party APIs (application programming intefaces) will eventually be shut down," Munsell said. Each third-party service has its own timetable for doing this, which Munsell said would be up to them to announce. While this won't happen as quickly as Microsoft's own Messenger phase-out, users shouldn't expect Mesenger to be supported through these services for the long-term.

As to why I'm not so keen on this move, it's not because I'm afraid of using something different or new. While Munsell noted that the Skype team is aware there's a learning curve for those accustomed to Messenger who will be moving to Skype, I don't think it's all that substantial. A few of my contacts already have moved off Messenger to Skype and the transition has not been smooth. They often don't receive IMs I've sent them at all, in spite of Skype IM indicating that all is fine. Some have found managing multiple conversations simultaneously to be a chore compared to how this works with Messenger today.

Munsell said Microsoft has not seen anything indicating there will be widespread problems. "We don't see anything on any scale of concern to us," he said when I asked.

Microsoft/Skype's message is users will gain new capabilities by moving from Messenger to Skype. Among these, Munsell said, are the ability to edit and delete messages, and the ability to move seamlessly from IM to Skype audio/video.

I'm curious if others who've already moved off Messenger to Skype have hit any roadblocks -- or found any new capabilities worth writing home about. Readers?

Topics: Unified Comms, Collaboration, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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63 comments
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  • I installed Skype and but I can communicate

    With my old Messenger contacts, all I am seeing are Facebook contacts and most of them are rarely online. I think I will need to reinstall Messenger until then.
    adacosta38
  • What about the WP7 users?

    I still cant use my microsoft account to log in to the WP7 skype app.

    Also, didn't anyone a microsft think it would be nice to be able to ADD a messenger contact from within skype? Seems like a pretty fundimentail feature to be missing.

    But I guess when you pay $8B for something, damn the users, full speed ahead!
    pmcgrath@...
    • WP7 users

      Hi. No word from MS on when they plan to cut off Messenger for users on platforms other than Win desktop. They aren't talking about that yet. There is a Skype WP8 client in beta, as I note above, but MS also not talking about when that will go final. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • Skype is missing email notifications.

    Messenger notified you of new emails at outlook.com (formerly hotmail.com.)
    Bruce Lang
    • Skype integration with Outlook.com

      Hi... integrating Skype with Outlook.com is something MS has said is coming. Also another of the things they aren't willing to talk about today, in terms of when it will be available to users. (I asked.) Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • Messy

    Some friends have tried this, and it got messy. Most of them wound up switching to Facebook chat (since everyone is already there) or Google Talk instead.

    After the problems with getting things to work properly, there isn't much enthusiasm in that group for using Skype just to send an IM.
    Tridus
  • Skype Interface fo chatting is soooooo bad.

    The entire skype UI is bad and unfriendly.
    Andre Velloso
    • I agree i don't care for it and don't have a use for Skype

      I use Gtalk for chatting and facetime on my ipod touch for video calls.
      ammohunt
    • Sound

      Worst are those stupid sounds...
      gbouchard99@...
  • No problems for me.

    Well, I did experience a known install and merge problem when I installed Skype and logged in with my Messenger ID. However, I was one BING away from the correct solution.

    Since then, it seems to be working fine.
    hornerea
  • well . . .

    "If you're using Messenger via a third-party instant messaging service -- like Trillian, Digsby, Pidgin or IM++, for example -- you will have a somewhat longer reprieve from being shut off."

    Well, I dunno about the others, but Trillian supports Skype, so you're just gonna see a different icon for contacts.

    The biggest issue is that Skype is video/audio first, and chat second. It even hides the chat by default, and I've struggled to inform people that text chat is even a feature of Skype. Most people who use Skype only for audio/video don't even know how to bring up chat.
    CobraA1
  • no email access or reporting

    I jumped and installed the revised skype client as soon as M-soft directed me to, and was torqued the next few days until I found how to revert.

    From the current Win Live Messenger, you can directly access your Hotmail accout, and get popups when new email arrives. From Skype, which supposedly integrates these two, there is no hotmail access, or outlook access, or email notifications. Since these are the things I use it for the most, removing them kills the need for it.

    As far as how to revert, go to control panel and do a repair install on the win live messenger client from add/remove programms.

    -Ed
    elgrivna@...
  • Google+ Hangouts and G-talk

    I gave up on the bloatware/security risk of Skype with the advent of Gmail chat which has become Google+ and Hangouts. Google+ messeging and video conferencing is more secure and runs minimally in a browser plugin not a bloated program.
    rm6565
  • Skype Spam

    And now I'm getting spam from Skype!
    Something I have never seen with Messenger.
    I really don't like Skype.
    Why am I getting this feeling that Microsoft is on a self-destruction move?
    Gauth
    • ... a source

      BTW, the latest one is from "pc-help-work.q2"
      Gauth
    • Spam

      You need to review your Skype settings. I get zero spam from Skype. A long-time Skype user.
      NWwoman
      • Don't Be Concerned About Skype Naysayers

        There will always be a segment that, without actual experience of a system, that will denigrate it to bolster their favorite device or system.
        nztjbv116
    • Microsoft is still the king of spammers

      From MSN, to hotmail.com, to outlook. com, and now skype. Anyting associated with Microsoft is going to be riddled with spam. The reason is: Microsoft sells end user contact lists to the spammers, as long as they have an account with Microsoft.
      Troll Hunter J
  • Pay for texting

    Skype makes you pay to text a cell phone from their client. WLM does not. Apparently Microsoft does have enough cash and needs more...GREED! I will not use Skype. I will use another client that allows texting from the comfort of my desktop w/o charging me to do so.
    zig618
  • Lync to suck less too?

    I hope that also means Lync will eventually suck less.
    Htalk