Windows Live Messenger Sent to the Scrap Heap
Microsoft signaled the end of an era this week with the announcement that they would be scrapping their Messenger tool.
For years the simple desktop application provided users with an easy way of talking to their friends, wherever they may be. You could talk with text, emoticons, video. For the best part of a decade it was one of the best and cheapest ways of communicating.
Alas however, when Microsoft bought Skype 18 months ago the writing was always on the wall for Messenger, and so it proved, as Microsoft will be replacing Messenger with Skype by March next year.
It marks a clear shift of focus for Microsoft, with attention being given to the company they paid £5.3 billion for 18 months ago.
Nevertheless it will mark the end of an era for many users. A report earlier this year by Comscore revealed that Messenger was still used by around twice as many people as Skype, and was second only to Yahoo Messenger.
The growth of the two services however couldn't be more stark. Whilst MSN Messenger saw a 48% drop in users over the last year, users of Skype grew significantly.
"When a company has competing products that can result in cannibalization it's often better to focus on a single one," said Brian Blau from the consultancy Gartner.
"Skype's top-up services offer the chance to monetize its users and Microsoft is also looking towards opportunities in the living room.
"Messenger doesn't seem like an appropriate communications platform for TVs or the firm's Xbox console - but Skype does."
Skype will be offering Messenger users a migration service to help them move their contacts over to Skype.
Microsoft also plans to integrate Skype into its new Windows smartphone software. Whilst there is a risk that users will shift to rival services, Microsoft is hopeful that the tie-up with Facebook last year will encourage more people to use Skype.