With the exception of mainland China, Windows Live Messenger will close in the first quarter of 2013, and its users should install the latest version of Skype, Microsoft said on Tuesday.
Users can sign into the Skype service with the credentials they use to access their Microsoft online services, including Windows Live Messenger. They will find their Windows Live Messenger contacts on their Skype contacts list. If they used both Windows Live Messenger and Skype, the contacts lists will be merged.
"We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience," wrote Tony Bates, Skype's president, in a blog post.
To encourage Windows Live Messenger, he touted several benefits users will get from Skype, including support for more devices, including iPad and Android tablets, screen sharing, the ability to place calls to landline phones, and group video conferencing.
However, this type of migration is rarely seamless, and users are already raising questions in comments to Bates' blog post, including the availability of certain Windows Live Messenger features and the capacity of the Skype infrastructure to sustain the new workload.
Microsoft, which acquired Skype in October 2011 for US$8.5 billion, will provide more information about the transition, as well as introduce special offers for fee-based Skype services, in the coming months, Bates wrote.