Back in October of 2011, Microsoft completed its $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype, the popular Internet phone and video chat company. Now, more than a year later, Microsoft has begun funneling all Windows Live Messenger users onto the Skype platform. Microsoft is billing the whole thing as an upgrade, but it's not exactly optional – where once you communicated with pals via Live Messenger, beginning April 8, everyone will do so via Skype.
"The process will take a few weeks to complete," Parri Munsell of Microsoft wrote in a blog post. "We’ll start the upgrades with our English language clients, and finish up with Brazilian Portuguese on April 30 or later."
As TechCrunch notes, the change-up is restricted to desktop clients, so if you're a mobile user, and you're still smitten with the Windows Live Messenger experience, Microsoft isn't going to cut you off just yet. But there seems to be little reason to avoid making the switch: It's Skype that's going to be continually refined and improved in coming years, not Live Messenger, which will basically be a dinosaur starting on April 8.
In addition, Skype already offers some features that Live Messenger does not, including Facebook-integrated video calling and instant messaging.
It's worth noting that back in 2011, many analysts were extremely wary of Microsoft's decision to pay such a hefty price for Skype, which was actually losing money at the time. But Microsoft was clearly less concerned with profitability than with enhancing products such as Windows and the Windows Phone mobile operating system.
Over at the Verge, Tom Warren sees the Live-Messenger-to-Skype transition as a step in the right direction for Microsoft. "If this first sign of integration helps move Microsoft towards Skype in every product to compete against services like WhatsApp, iMessage, Google Talk, and others," Warren writes today, "then it will benefit all who rely on Microsoft's ecosystem of software and services in the long run."