Microsoft has started notifying users of it Windows Messenger Live that the service will be shut down on March 15.
Messenger users will be asked to use Skype, which has released a version that allows users to sign in with Microsoft account credentials. Microsoft says Skype will automatically import contacts from Messenger.
Microsoft will shut down Messenger worldwide on March 15, with the exception of mainland China.
The transition to Skype has been known since at least last November when Microsoft announced its intentions to shut down Messenger.
Messenger users will have several added benefits from switching to Skype, like making calls over the Internet and integration with Facebook.
Microsoft bought Skype in 2011 for $8.5 billion. The acquisition was the biggest yet for the software giant.
At the time, Microsoft said it would integrate Skype with the Xbox game console, Outlook email software and Windows smartphones. Skype has also since partnered with Facebook to provide video chat across both platforms and offers the social network's news feed in its chat software. Microsoft is also an investor in Facebook.
Microsoft has made strides to create a more seamless user experience across all of its products. In July 2012, Microsoft launched Outlook.com, an email client to rival Google Mail. Users of the email service will soon be able to initiate Skype calls from their inboxes.
Read Microsoft message to users below.
On 15th March 2013 we are retiring the existing Messenger service globally (except for mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available) and bringing the great features of Messenger and Skype together. Update to Skype and sign in using a Microsoft Account (same as your Messenger ID) and all your Messenger contacts will be at your fingertips. You'll be able to instant message and video chat with them just like before, and also discover new ways of staying in touch with Skype on your mobile and tablet.
The Messenger Team