It looks like it is about time to say “goodbye” to Windows Live Messenger and “hello” to Skype. In March 2013, Windows will be turned off everywhere but in China. Because Skype and Messenger are both joint ventures with Chinese companies, they plan to keep both there to avoid any unnecessary complications. As for the rest of the world, however, it’s time to get Skype savvy in order to still enjoy face-to-face type communication via the Internet, as well as instant message and voice call capabilities.
Windows Live Messenger was introduced to the world in 1999 and has been highly popular since that time. It began as MSN Messenger and was quite basic. In time, it added several features to include photo delivery, video chat, and games. Its increasing popularity led to hundreds of millions of users, even up to just a few years ago. In fact, WLM actually still had double the number of users than Skype at the beginning of this year. In recent months, however, that number has dropped significantly and Skype’s user base has increased dramatically as well. This increase in Skype users is partly due to the release of Skype 6.0 in October of this year. Skype 6.0 is for Mac and Windows users.
While some may wonder why Microsoft is giving WLM the “boot” rather than just keeping both programs, to others it may seem quite obvious. The fact is that with competing programs, it is difficult to efficiently and effectively market both. No company wants to take sales from one area and give it to another. They would much rather focus on one program and work to significantly increase use of that one program. For this reason, Skype is going to be the main video chat program for Microsoft.
For those WLM users who are worried about the switch, they can relax and be rest assured that it will be easier than they expect. Microsoft is offering a tool that allows users to effectively transfer their contacts from WLM to Skype without much headache or confusion. They will be able to sign into the latest version of the program with a Microsoft account and easily transfer them over.
Tony Bates, the president of Skype, wrote “”We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience.” One way Skype is an easier communication choice than Messenger is the fact that it is now connected with Facebook. Facebook has one billion users, so it’s certainly a smart business move. It is also nice for the users, as they can connect to others with Skype via a social media site they already use on a daily basis. Bates also wrote “We think you will enjoy using Skype, and encourage you to download the latest version, sign in with your Microsoft account, and experience it for yourself.”
Bates also gives instructions on how to merge your two accounts, both Messenger and Skype, and easily connect with your contacts. He posted these instructions here.
In addition to the Facebook connection, Skype will offer several new perks to users. Skype can be used from a computer, but it can also be set up on a television set. The great advantage of this is that you can have group chats, where everyone in the room can easily see the screen and the person on the other end. In addition, Skype will be boasting some other new features as well. Skype users will be able to instant message and call landlines and cell phones. It will also allow users to place video calls on mobile phones and use social media sites such as Facebook for video calls.
With this change in communication on Microsoft, some may be concerned. However, it looks like they will have a lot more options with the introduction of Skype as the main program of communication for Mac and Windows users. The fact that it can be used over social media sites (Facebook) is a huge bonus. And as mentioned before, Skype can be used in a variety of settings, whether on the computer, in the living room on the big screen, or on a tablet. The company’s willingness to help users easily and painlessly transfer their contacts will also help smooth out the transition. All in all, it doesn’t seem like too bad of a deal and will most likely please most users.
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