Microsoft Acquires Skype: What is the Fate of Windows Live Messenger?

When discussing the Microsoft acquisition of Skype in Experience Skype to the Max, I made the statement:

The key to the Microsoft acquisition is for Skype to build out its current platform, often working with third party developer partners, while integrating Skype’s software and technology into Microsoft products such as Office (Outlook, especially), Windows Phone, Windows Live, Xbox 360 and, possibly, its business communications offering.

When the Microsoft acquisition of Skype was first announced one of my questions at the time was:

How will the two companies’ instant messaging services be brought together? Skype chat offers a richer chat experience, especially given the ability to rapidly escalate to a superior voice and video conversation and to provide complements such as file transfer.

Over the past few weeks we have started to see first steps towards the integration of Skype into Microsoft offerings. First, the merging of Skype and Microsoft accounts; next the launch of Skype for Windows 8. During my recent interview with Skype’s Piero Sierra he pointed out that, over the past 18 months, there have been deep architectural changes to the Skype back end. It has been completely re-architected for extreme mobile environments. And that back end architecture brings more robustness to Skype’s Instant Messaging based on the Windows Live Messenger back end. For instance, messages can now be buffered even when a contact is not online; pick them up when next logged in.  Calls themselves still use Skype’s peer-to-peer technology that allows Skype to offer free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls.

S4W5_5.ConversationPaneOverviewToday, it was no surprise to learn that we may be seeing the retirement of Windows Live Messenger shortly. My comments:

  • I had actively used Windows Live Messenger (“WLM”), or its predecessors, until about five years ago when I found that all my WLM contacts were also Skype contacts. That redundancy was demonstrated in yesterday’s post, Linking Skype and Microsoft Accounts: A primer.
  • Skype has more feature rich messaging in terms of archiving and/or logging Skype activity and escalating conversations to voice and video calls. It was only recently with the ability to merge Skype and Microsoft accounts that I found there was still a WLM client available in Windows Essentials.
  • With the ability to log into Skype using a Microsoft account, WLM users only need to download and install Skype to continue their conversations with the same set of contacts. Also expect to see Skype Instant Messaging accessed from the People application in the near future.
  • It would certainly drive a quantum jump in number of active Skype users.
  • If all users of WLM are brought into a Skype client, Skype can realize additional revenues from SkypeOut, Skype Online Numbers and Skype Premium subscriptions.
  • WLM users will be able to take full advantage of Skype’s unique voice and video technologies (SILK for crystal clear audio and HD Video calling at 30 fps).

Question: WLM users could archive their chat conversations locally. Will these archives be transferred over to the Skype conversation archive available when using Skype for Windows or Skype for Mac?

Bottom line: this move simply reinforces the robustness, maturity and feature richness of Skype’s Instant Messaging as it has evolved over the years.

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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