Microsoft has decided to do away with Windows Live Messenger in favor of its more popular VoIP and IM solution, Skype. This is a wise move, because not only is Skype growing as a popular IM client, but because Microsoft would be competing with itself otherwise.
The acquisition of Skype from eBay/PayPal some time back was seen as a curious move by the software giant. At first, I thought that Microsoft must be working on a larger long-term strategy to bring a social element to Bing and other properties, but in fact it was Facebook (another of Microsoft’s investments) that received the social rewards. Facebook’s integration of Skype is an almost invisible feature on the site these days, but at the time it was seen as the most significant alternative to Google Hangouts to appear since Google launched its new social network just over one year ago.
Getting rid of an IM client that really just annoyed many users as it seemed to pop up and demand attention when there wasn’t any actual IMs coming in was a smart move. Does Microsoft really need another IM client? There are plenty of third-party alternatives, but very few that offer the added bonus of VoIP. Skype is a powerhouse, even though its interface is met largely with mixed reviews.
As more and more users are utilizing social networks and other cloud-based services to fulfill their communication needs, it’s becoming increasingly obvious just how little we need dozens of different IM platforms to keep us in touch with our friends and family. Even universal clients such as Pidgin and Trillian can cause some level of confusion. There was a time when everyone had their own preferred IM platform, and it was up to each individual to support the ones their friends used. Now, social networks are providing IM services of their own. This leaves VoIP to be that one big differentiator between an IM platform and a true communications solution. All of which Skype is more than equipped to handle.
Do you use Windows Live Messenger? Is Skype (even with its flaws) a capable substitute for the aging platform?