The Verge is reporting that Microsoft is trying to nix its Windows Live Messenger client in favour of Skype. That’s definitely for the best, and something we’ve seen coming for a while now. But it also smacks of some missed opportunity for Windows 8 and Windows Phone.
The plan, according to the Verge, is that the backend of Messenger will be moved over to the Skype client. So you still use your Messenger account and contacts, just in Skype. That move’s been happening for a while, and apparently 80 per cent of Skype IMs are already through the Messenger protocol. Skype is a better alternative for a lot of people than WLM, and consolidating the number of clients under Microsoft’s roof is a good thing.
Messenger remains widely used — according to Microsoft’s numbers, it and Facebook are the two most popular chat clients. But, honestly, when is the last time you signed into WLM? So Microsoft has been focusing more on the chat functions in Skype — especially with recent improvements to the client’s chat interface — and is even integrating it into its People apps in Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 in the near future.
Thing is, making Skype a new Messenger sort of feels like musical messaging chairs, especially since once Microsoft absorbs Skype fully it will likely mainly exist as a service integrated into first-party Microsoft apps. Ditching WLM for Skype is an improvement, sure, but seems to go against the ethos of putting services in one non-confusing place Microsoft has established in Windows 8 and WP8. For Windows 8 it won’t matter too much, once Skype is fully integrated (instead of bouncing you to the Skype app). But for Windows 7 and previous, which most folks will be on for a while, making one mega communication client with all the services (Skype, Messenger, AIM, GTalk, Facebook, etc.) would be a lot more person-friendly than just bouncing you from one app to another. [Verge]