The End for Windows Live Messenger: What Are the Alternatives?

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alternatives to windows live messengerIt’s hard to believe, but the end of days for Windows Live Messenger are finally here. The service has been popular since the 90s when it was named MSN Messenger, so many people are quite unprepared to see the service finally head into retirement.

If you’ve been a dedicated user of Windows Live Messenger, it’s time to start considering your options for future messaging. Today we’ll talk about how you can migrate to Skype, what alternative chat options are out there and how you can make the whole transition easier for yourself. You have until the 15th of March 2013 to make your decision, then the Windows Live Messenger service will be closed for good.

Why The Move?

Microsoft bought Skype back in May 2011, so many people have been expecting a mass migration since then. It really doesn’t make sense for Microsoft to maintain the two services independently, and Skype does have a lot going for it. For starters, Skype already has more users than Windows Live Messenger, especially since it allowed Facebook chat integration.

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Skype has also developed great mobile applications for most popular devices and operating systems. This means the service is well and truly ready for large-scale VoIP and video usage across many platforms, which seems to be the direction chat is heading in. So, for everywhere in the world except mainland China, Windows Live Messenger will be retired and users will be migrated to Skype.

Migrating To Skype

To migrate to Skype, start by downloading the latest version of Skype. It’s available for multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS, Android and Windows Phone. If you already have a Skype account, log in using this account and then merge your account with your Windows Live Messenger account. If you don’t yet have a Skype account, you can simply log in using your Windows Live Messenger account. All of your Windows Live Messenger contacts will then be waiting for you on Skype.

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Please note that your Windows Live Messenger details are also known as your Microsoft account. A Microsoft account is the email address and password that you use to sign in to services like Windows 8, Hotmail, Messenger, SkyDrive, Windows Phone, Xbox LIVE, and Outlook.com. If you have more than one Microsoft account, you may wish to merge a different account with your Skype account. It’s your choice, but if you choose an account that isn’t your Messenger account, then your Messenger contacts will not be imported. If this is the case, you may want to manually add your contacts before the Messenger service is closed for good.

Alternative Chat Services

These days, there are dozens of great chat services you can use to keep in contact with your friends. If you’re not keen to try Skype, you could choose to find your friends on any or all of the following services: Gmail (and Google Hangouts), Facebook, Yahoo, ICQ or AIM. These services have been around for a while, so there’s a good chance you will find your friends. You will have to manually add the contacts you wish to keep from Windows Live Messenger, so remember to do it before the cut-off date.

alternatives to windows live messenger

Each of these services has a different user base, varying popularity and slightly different functions available to users. These days, it would probably be safe to say Facebook chat and Gmail chat are the most widely used. Yahoo, AIM and ICQ have been around far longer and could have more of your friends signed up already, however that doesn’t mean your friends will still use the service regularly. Facebook chat and Gmail chat are more integrated into daily life as they are often turned on automatically when people visit the respective site.

Multi-Protocol IM Chat Tools

If you have accounts on more than one of the above services, you may be keen to use a multi-protocol instant messaging (IM) tool. These will allow you to log into all of your IM accounts at once, then use the one program to keep track of all of your conversations. Some of these are web-based, while others have downloadable clients for your operating system. There are many pros and cons to consider when choosing between the different multi-protocol IM services.

Here at MakeUseOf, some of our favorite Multi-protocol IM tools include Adium, IM+, imo.im, Pidgin and Trillian. Take a look around and choose either a web-based or downloadable client for your OS. Many people feel that using these multi-protocol applications make chatting a much more pleasant experience as there’s only one login and only one set of notifications to worry about.

Will you migrate your Windows Live Messenger account to Skype or manually add your favorite contacts to your chosen chat client? What is your reasoning for your choice?

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