February 15, 2013
Microsoft Messenger Gears Up To Switch Users To Skype
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
This week Microsoft outlined its plans to move users of its Messenger platform over to Skype. Microsoft originally planned to retire Messenger in all countries except mainland China by the end of the first quarter of 2013. However, it now appears that the transition may take a little longer than originally stated.
Plans for the switchover were detailed by Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft on ZDNet. Microsoft executives now plan to discontinue Messenger for a "test group." The group will total about one percent of the Microsoft Messenger user base, which the ZDNet report says is in the "tens of millions" of users. The initial test group is scheduled to make the transition on March 15.
The next phase will continue on April 8, when Microsoft says it will phase messenger out for the remaining users. English-speaking countries will make the switch first, while Portuguese-speaking countries will round out the end of the migration.
While Microsoft begins this transition, it has made efforts to get people to move on their own. The company began making suggestions for users to migrate to Skype several months ago. The advice came in the form of a pop-up message that users received when signed into Messenger.
Making the switchover is simple, says Microsoft. Users need to sign into Skype using their Microsoft accounts, which are the same as their Messenger IDs. All Messenger contacts will be added to Skype, merging both Messenger and Skype into one account. Users can then specify if they want to view only Messenger contacts, or set up other preferences when they log into Skype.
Microsoft will shut off Messenger service between March 15 and April 30. At that point users will no longer be able to sign into Messenger and will probably be directed to Skype to log into their accounts.
Migrating users to new accounts has not been easy for Microsoft. It planned to phase out its Hotmail.com email service several years ago and offered to help migrating users to set up Live.com accounts, and more recently Outlook.com accounts. However, there are still a number of users who access their Hotmail.com email accounts. By contrast, the shut down of the Messenger service will effectively force users to move over to Skype. As a number of tech critics have pointed out though, Microsoft may losing some of their users to other platforms if the transition is not handled with the utmost delicacy.
Skype is making the switch easier by offering a number of new features that it hopes will entice Messenger users and reduce fallout. Skype is introducing video messaging to iOS, Android and Mac apps in the United States, United Kingdom and a few other countries according to reports on VentureBeat. Video chat was already hinted at when Skype changed its terms of service agreement in December.
Skype users will be able to send video messages of up to three minutes long. Ironically, Windows may be the last platform to get the new feature, though there is no word yet on when it will become available. A representative from Skype, which was bought by Microsoft in 2011, told VentureBeat: "We're pleased that there's interest for Video Messaging to come to Skype for Windows and Skype for Windows 8. We'll let you know when we expand the service platform."
Video messaging offers asynchronous video calling. It allows users to send messages to contacts who may be offline and delivers the message when they log in to Skype.