By Khurram Aziz | Nov 07, 2012 11:18 AM EST
Millions of Windows Live Messenger users might have to learn to use Skype, following rumors that Microsoft is 'retiring' the messaging service in favor of Skype IM.
The reports, which first surfaced on the The Verge, say Microsoft will integrate Windows Live Messenger with Skype in the coming months.
The company bought Skype, along with its more than 170 million users worldwide in 2011 for $8.5 billion.
Skype, created by Estonian developers Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn, was one of the first programs to offer low-cost international calls using VOIP. It is widely used by families and friends keeping in touch with each other around the world.
The Verge cited unnamed sources as confirming that Microsoft will announce the retirement of Windows Live Messenger soon, possibly as early as this week. The company has already begun migrating users onto the new platform over the past few months, with around 80% of all IMs sent on Skype being handled by Messenger.
Its Messenger, previously referred to as MSN Messenger, has been around since 1999 and has amassed over 330 million active users, according to Microsoft.
Software management specialist OPSWAT revealed that in June 2011, Live Messenger accounted for 40.6% of installed IM clients.
The software has gone through many changes over its lifetime, and has its own web conferencing and VOIP capabilities.
However, those are also Skype's core features and a key reason why Microsoft chose to buy the company last year.
Microsoft has made it clear that Skype is the future of its VOIP services, saying on a recent blog post that the integration between the software and its latest Windows operating system, Windows 8, will be "immersive and effortless".
"The team at Skype has been building on the Windows platform since the first release of Skype. With Skype for Windows 8 we've focused on how people are using Skype today, and re-imagined Skype for everyday communications across our global community," said the blog post.
The last update to Windows Live Messenger was released in August 2012. It allows users to connect with their Gmail, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Xbox 360 accounts.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has refused to confirm or deny the rumors.
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