Microsoft delays transition of Windows Live Messenger to Skype

Skype rolls out beta version of video messaging service

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is delaying the transition of Windows Messenger desktop subscribers to Skype until April, according to a Skype blog post.

The company had originally said it would shut down Windows Messenger on March 15 and move messenger users to Skype, according to an email to Messenger users obtained by The Guardian.

"On 15th March 2013, we are retiring the existing Messenger service globally (except for mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available) and bringing the great features of Messenger and Skype together," said Microsoft's official email.

In addition to IM, Skype offers audio and video calling, file sharing and the ability to delete instant messages. Skype supports more devices and platforms, including Windows, Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) Mac and iOS platforms, Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android platform and soon the BlackBerry (Nasdaq: BBRY) platform.

According to the Skype blog, the transition of Messenger users to Skype will now begin on April 8 and take "a few weeks to complete." Microsoft will start with English language users and finish with Brazilian Portuguese users on April 30 or later.

"As Messenger users upgrade to Skype on their desktops, we also encourage them to download Skype on their mobile devices, and sign in with their Microsoft account to check out all that Skype has to offer," the blog added.

Skype will pre-stream the client data to the user so the upgrade will already be on the machine when the notification arrives, according to a report by TechCrunch.

The transition applies to desktop users of Messenger, Parri Munsell, director of marketing integration for Skype, told ZDNet. He provided no timetable for the transition of Messenger users on mobile and third-party platforms, but said that third-party application programming interfaces would "eventually be shut down."

In addition, Skype said it was rolling out a beta version of its video messaging capability for Mac, iOS and Android platforms. Video messaging, which enables Skype users to send up to three minutes of video to other users, is coming to the Windows platform at the end of April, according to a report by The Verge.

It would appear that Microsoft is putting all its eggs in the Skype basket, which is being integrated with its Lync unified communications platform. No wonder privacy advocates are nervous about Microsoft's handling of Skype.

For more:
- read The Guardian article
- see the Skype blog post
- read the article by TechCrunch
- see the ZDNet article
- check out The Verge article

Related articles:
Privacy groups call on Skype to issue regular transparency reports
Microsoft links Lync with Skype