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Microsoft retires Windows Live Messenger in favour of Skype

Microsoft has announced plans to drop its Windows Live Messenger communications platform, intending to push its users across to the Skype voice-over-IP (VoIP) service instead.

The move follows Microsoft's acquisition of Skype back in May last year - a deal that saw the software giant pay £5.3 billion to take over the company. At the time, Microsoft did not announce plans to move from its existing communications products to Skype, leading investors to question why the purchase had gone ahead.

Since then, Microsoft has integrated Skype into its Windows 8 operating system and has now announced that it will be the default communication system from now on with Windows Live Messenger being retired.

Launched in 1999 and originally known as MSN Messenger, Windows Live Messenger started life as an instant-messaging client for text-based communications. Designed to compete with AOL Messenger and ICQ, Windows Live Messenger grew to include voice-chat functionality, file transfer and application sharing features, and eventually video chat.

Skype, meanwhile, began as a voice-over-IP client in 2003 allowing users to make voice calls to other Skype users and, later, any telephone number in the world over their internet connection. The company was purchased in 2005 by auction giant eBay, which failed to make use of its investment before selling Skype to Microsoft in 2011. Since its launch, Skype has also added video-chat, text-based instant messaging, file transfer and application sharing features.

To help its users make the transition, Microsoft will centralise its login system to allow a single Messenger ID - now known as a Windows ID - to access Skype, Hotmail and Outlook.com services. A completion date for Windows Live Messenger's retirement has not been given.

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