Microsoft confirmed that in 2013 it will retire Windows Live Messenger. It's really more of a marriage, where all 100 million Messenger users will be integrated into Skype—retaining the Skype name—so you'll be able to reach all your contacts through both instant messaging and video calling. Skype was acquired by Microsoft in May 2011 for $8.5 billion, in a move that was pushed by Bill Gates himself. Eighteen months later, it's clear why Microsoft acquired Skype. The software giant wants to push forward the adoption of Skype by merging it with a solid base of 100 million Live Messenger users, who will be able to use Skype on all platforms, including iPad and Android tablets. Users will also have access to instant messaging, video calling, and calls to landlines and mobile phones, all in one place. The integration has already started, so if you're a Windows Live Messenger user, you don't need to wait until that program is retired as a stand-alone in 2013. Here's what to do: If you have both Skype and Live Messenger accounts, you can merge them into your Microsoft account when you log in to Skype. Just be sure to update to the latest version of Skype (6.0 for Mac and Windows) first, sign in to Skype with your Microsoft account, and voila. You should see your old Live Messenger friends in your Skype contact list. Now you can start instant messaging and video calling from one integrated platform. According to Tony Bates, president of the Skype division at Microsoft:
Our goal remains to deliver the best communications experience for everyone, everywhere. We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience.
That overall experience is expanding with the integration, according to Microsoft. You'll be able to share screens, make video calls on mobile phones, Skype your Facebook friends, and make group video calls. The one exception to the integration is that Windows Live Messenger will continue to be available in mainland China even after the first quarter of 2013, the target timeline for retiring it everywhere else in the world.

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Image: Skype Logo [Skype]