On Thursday, Microsoft emailed the remaining users of Windows Live Messenger that the final vestiges of its service would finally be terminated by October 31. ZDNet reports that the email informed the final Chinese users that their account and contact information would be transferred over to Skype. Additionally, the Messenger users will be gifted a small Skype coupon for international calls.
Microsoft’s instant messaging service began as MSN Messenger in 1999. It was a basic text chat program that competed with ICQ and AOL’s Aim service.
By 2005 the program had been rechristened Windows Live and was expanding rapidly into foreign markets, including China. However, the program later faced harsh competition from rival messaging services such as QQ messenger, designed by the Chinese firm Tencent. Nevertheless, the program maintained its position for the next few years, servicing as many as 330 users as late as 2009.
It was with the rise of Skype that the Windows Live Messenger began to see a true loss in its numbers. By 2012, Microsoft’s messaging program had lost a substantial quantity of its customer base while users of Skype had risen to nearly 300 million. By late 2012 Microsoft had acquired Skype, and the nearly 15-year-old program was seeing the last of its day. Finally, in April 2013 Microsoft announced that it was ending support of the service in all countries except the Chinese mainland. An obituary for the long-running messaging service can be found on BBC’s website.