Microsoft is combining its two instant messaging services. The latest versions of Skype for Windows and Mac computers let you chat with your Windows Live Messenger contacts. And early next year Microsoft is going to kill off the standalone Messenger app altogether.
Messenger has been around for a dozen years at this point, and it’s gone through a few name changes along the way. Remember MSN Messenger?
But this is the biggest change by far. You’ll still be able to use the Skype app to send instant messages to your existing contacts. But Skype is much more than a chat app. It has a heavy emphasis on voice and video calls, and even allows users to purchase credit that lets you make calls to phone numbers — or buy a phone number that lets people call you on Skype from any phone.
Skype also supports group video calls, screen sharing, and other features that Messenger lacked.
In some ways, Microsoft is basically positioning Skype as the next version of Windows Live Messenger and encouraging users to upgrade to the new app. But with about 100 million active users to migrate, there’s a chance that some folks might get lost in the shuffle.