Microsoft's (News - Alert) Windows Live Messenger had a good run, but it is now being replaced as the chat program of choice for Windows by Skype. This isn't too surprising as Skype (News - Alert) has such a robust user base and is far more advanced than Live Messenger, which has failed to keep up with the bevy of instant messaging options now available, losing 45 percent of its customer base in the past year. This, along with Microsoft's Skype Everywhere initiative, made the elimination of Live Messenger an obvious move.
Fortunately, those still using Live Messenger can transfer their entire contact list over to Skype for instant messaging and video chat. This will smooth the transition which will be complete the world over with the retiring of Live Messenger by 2013 — except China. Since Skype and Messenger are both joint ventures with Chinese companies, a merger would be difficult to perform there.
For the rest of the world, though, transferring contacts to Skype is as simple as signing into the latest version of Skype, version 6, with a Microsoft account. Skype v.6 came out toward the end of October and features integration with Facebook (News - Alert) Chat, a feature introduced into Live Messenger last year, as well as Retina display support for OS X users. Oddly, this update also introduced the ability to make calls to Live Messenger users with Skype.
Of course, users coming over from Microsoft's previous instant messaging platform of choice will have to get a bit accustomed to Skype if, by some chance, they've never used it before. However, Skype definitely brings a lot to the table sure to please those resistant to change, namely support for more devices — including Android (News - Alert) tablets and the iPad — and the ability to call landlines and cell phones, share screens, place video calls on mobile phones and place video calls with Facebook friends.
Edited by Brooke Neuman