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Microsoft is making some changes to its instant messaging program. As a result, what we know and love today as Messenger will eventually go away and be replaced with Skype.

Microsoft recently announced that Microsoft Messenger instant messaging would be migrated to Skype, which it purchased in 2011.

What that really means is very simple: Messenger is going away and Skype is replacing it.

Before you panic, that doesn't mean you'll lose anything at all. Because at the same time, Microsoft announced that you can now log in to Skype using your Microsoft Account and when you do, you'll find all of your Messenger contacts there ready for you to chat with.

Unfortunately, so much of the terminology that Microsoft has used over the years is so incredibly confusing, I need to lay out just what "Messenger" I'm talking about and what a "Microsoft Account" is.

Then, we can download the latest Skype and even merge our Skype and Microsoft accounts.

Messenger is Messenger is ...

In Microsoft's announcement, they refer to "Messenger." Just "Messenger." So what is that? It is the current name for:

  • Windows Live Messenger

  • MSN Messenger (occasionally incorrectly referred to by many as simply "MSN")

  • Windows Messenger

Important: These are all today the same thing; they're simply called "Messenger" or "Microsoft Messenger."

If you're logging in with your Hotmail or Windows Live account and doing some instant messaging with it, then it's Microsoft Messenger that you're using.

Speaking of accounts...

An account is an account is ...

In Microsoft's current literature, they refer simply to your "Microsoft account." This single account gets you access to all of Microsoft's free online services.

A Microsoft account is or was:

  • Your Windows Live Account

  • Your MSN Account

  • Your Hotmail Account

  • Your Microsoft Passport Account

For most people, it's the account that uses your Hotmail.com, MSN.com, Outlook.com or Live.com email address as your user ID.

So, whatever account you use to login to use Microsoft Messenger (aka Windows Live Messenger), that's your Microsoft account and the account we're talking about here.

Updating Skype

In order to use your Microsoft Account to log in to Skype, you'll need to download the latest version.

Note: As I write this, the "Check For Updates" option in an existing Skype installation doesn't seem to work. It reports nothing as available. Go to the Skype home page, click on Get Skype in the navigation bar across the top of the page and then download the latest version of Skype for your platform.

Exit Skype if you're running it and run the downloaded installer.

Skype Installer Update Message

Note the important message:

... as Skype includes IM and your buddies, Messenger will be uninstalled.

(Emphasis mine.)

Yes, when you install the latest Skype, Microsoft Messenger will be removed from your system. This actually makes sense because you can do everything with Skype that you would do with Messenger and more.

As you Next through the subsequent installation screens, make sure to pay close attention to all options. Microsoft would like to make Bing your search engine, for example, so be sure to uncheck those types of options unless they're actually what you want.

Skype will then ask you to login with your Microsoft Account:

Skype Installer Microsoft Account Login

That would be the account you used for Microsoft Messenger in the past. In my case, that's my Hotmail.com account.

If you already have a Skype account (as I do), the next step allows you to merge the two:

Skype Installer Account Merge

Click on I have a Skype account if you have one. You'll then be asked to login to that account. After which, you'll get this confirmation that your accounts are about to be merged:

Skype Installer Account Merge Confirmation

Note the message: "From now on, please use your Microsoft account [your name] to sign into Skype."

And that's it! Skype now replaced Microsoft Messenger and you can do all of your instant messaging with yoru MSN/Live/Microsoft buddies using Skype.

Note now that you should also be "findable" on Skype using either your Microsoft Account ID (i.e. your email address), or your old Skype ID.

Duplicate buddies

You may find that some of your buddies are listed twice in Skype.

Those that are running both Skype and Microsoft Messenger will show up separately once for each. As they migrate to the new combined Skype, I'd expect them to display only once.

Bottom line: It's a good thing

I was actually hoping that something like this would happen when Microsoft purchased Skype. My experience is that Skype's audio and video connections are less problematic and often higher quality than the equivalent in Microsoft Messenger.

And if all you're doing is instant messaging in text, either will do.

Update: Microsoft has posted a fairly length FAQ here.

Article C6000 - November 6, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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41 Comments
allstondave
November 6, 2012 6:44 PM

My present MS Messenger monitors my Outlook, (Hotmail) account, and pops up a little window when I get an email, I'll bet Skype won't do this.

Bob
November 7, 2012 8:23 AM

I do use MS Messenger, but I don't use Skype.
I also use Yahoo Messenger.

Guess what will happen...

Mark J
November 7, 2012 10:32 AM

I think calling it your "Microsoft Account" is a good step in reducing some of the Microsoft naming confusion. I think most people won't have a hard time associating their HoTMaiL, Live etc accounts with the Microsoft login.

MATT
November 7, 2012 11:09 AM

will my hotmail accounts get shut down to, i have way to much connected to my hotmail accounts that i cant loose them at any cost!!1`!

Nothing has EVER been said about shutting down Hotmail. Not sure why this causes you to worry about that. At worst Hotmail will get the new Outlook.com interface, but your account will still be there. If you're worried about losing your email you MUST MUST MUST begin backing it up - there are many other ways that you could lose your email.
Leo
07-Nov-2012

MATT
November 7, 2012 11:12 AM

shut down facebook instead...

Mark J
November 7, 2012 2:45 PM

@Matt
Microsoft is not shutting down Hotmail. It is one of Microsoft's flagship products. Closing it down would seriously impact customer confidence. They are simply changing the interface and adding new email address options, as they have done in the past with msn.com and live.com emails. Now they are adding outlook.com addresses in the mix.
Is Microsoft Shutting Down Hotmail?

Don
November 9, 2012 8:34 AM

I am so glad to see it go. Have never used it, have always wondered why anyone would use it when there's e-mail, Twitter, Facebook.

Sally
November 9, 2012 9:23 AM

I don't have a Skype account or any of the other messenger accounts mentioned in the article. I'm interested in getting Skype, however. If I download the current version of Skype now, am I given the option to create an account? I'm a little confused since the article only gives directions for merging the other MS past offerings.

Yes you can still create a Skype account. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if some day that went away and you had to create a Microsoft account for new users.
Leo
10-Nov-2012

Kevin
November 9, 2012 9:24 AM

Interesting article Leo
In my particular case I remember using Messenger to 2 people 4 or more years ago. As I found it quite childish and have since stopped using it and have used only Skype which I rather like !. Have just checked my laptop and found that that Messenger is not currently installed. However I cannot remember exactly what I did with it at the time, although probably did delete. Do remember what E-mail address I used then but as to passwords (If required ?), have not a clue.
Question : As it now looks to me that from very soon, I am going to have messenger whether I want to or not, and further that I might have to log into Skye through my Microsoft Account, will I have to set up a new Messenger account or will the old one still be hovering somewhere in the background ??. Or best of all can I just continue on with Skype and ignore the change ??

You're not getting Messenger whether you want it or not. It's the other direction: messenger users are getting Skype. I think you can safely ignore all the Messenger stuff if you're happy with just Skype.
Leo
10-Nov-2012

TheSarfaraz
November 9, 2012 9:48 AM

Sir, After I Merge My Skype Account And Microsoft Account
It Shows This Message As You Said
Note the message: "From now on, please use your Microsoft account [your name] to sign into Skype."
But I Want To Ask Whether
I Would Be Able To Sign In Using My Skype Name Or Not ?
I Want To Use My Skype Name To Log Into Skype, Always, Is It Possible?

It's unclear, I'm not sure. But I see no reason to with your Skype ID. Logging in with your Microsoft Accounts puts you online with both your Skype ID and your Microsoft Account ID because you have merged them.
Leo
10-Nov-2012

Deja
November 9, 2012 11:30 AM

I have 4 different messenger accounts each with different contacts and for that reason I maintained them as separate accounts.

I also have a Skype account. The contacts in my Skype account are different from the messenger accounts.

I don't want to merge any of them. I want to keep them as separate accounts. How do I do that?

For now, do nothing. Whether or not Microsoft's plans for Skype and Messenger will allow you to continue this way is unknown. Worst cast, I guess, each of the Messenger accounts would convert to a separate Skype account. But as I said, for now, I'd do nothing.
Leo
10-Nov-2012

Ed P.
November 9, 2012 3:42 PM

I read this article which says they are discontinueing Windows Live Messenger and next to the article is an advertisement to download Windows Live Messenger.!!!!!! WTF. Free or not if it is being discontinued ?????????????

Kevin
November 10, 2012 12:37 AM

Hi Leo
Just to let you know that since yesterday did indeed scan through the MS FAQ. Not really much to it but did find it very boring. And despite being able to CAPTCHA with the best also located my old password. It goes back to pre LastPass days when I was first experimenting with longer passwords. This one was 11 long and fairly mixed up, which for then was OK I think.(But did have to write them down then)
So only one question remains ! Will the old account still be there ? As Microsoft is your old Alma Mater, just think you might have some idea.
Ta in advance.

Eventually it gets shut down. How quickly is unclear, but if it's been more than a year or two since you logged in to any Microsoft service using that ID, then I'd expect it to be long gone.
Leo
10-Nov-2012

Ago
November 10, 2012 4:02 AM

Well, this is total BS.
I like my messenger and skype SEPARATE. Not in same big mess! I don't want this. I love to have two options: MSN and Skype, not just _Skype_.

How can I now do smilies even? Skype's smiley list isn't good at all. It's just bunch of weird smilies and you can't even load more or smilies you want to use.
And what about the look of it? I don't like it either. Can't you just keep msn and skype different and out of each other? Dammit...

connie
November 10, 2012 9:38 AM

@Ago,
Errrrrrr... You are aware, aren't you, that Leo is not Microsoft? He's just reporting the news that this is happening, and commenting on some of the issues.

Marcia
November 10, 2012 11:36 AM

I'm wondering what happens to webMessenger. Where I work, we have hundreds of customers who log on to webmessenger on public machines. Skype doesn't exist on these machines, and we cannot download ANYTHING, ever. Has anyone seen anything about webmessenger?

Marcia the Librarian

Nothing's been said about webmessenger. I'm assuming that the web based messenger service offered by Microsoft will continue in some form. How it may eventually relate to Skype is unclear.
Leo
10-Nov-2012

Hira
November 10, 2012 11:58 AM

@Sally
You can create an account when you download Skype at http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-your-computer/windows/
I am guessing you are using Windows. Download the Skype Free and it allows to create an account.
~ Hira

Monique
November 11, 2012 7:29 AM

Do I really have to change and go with SKYPE? If I don't, what will happen?

Thanks for your good work Leo......

Old Man
November 11, 2012 10:51 AM

Leo,
I'm like Monique. I don't have Skype, and hadn't thought about getting it. Of course, I don't use IM much either - nearly all my contacts quit using it.
Will MS just upgrade IM to Skype like they did the other IM programs?

Dave
November 17, 2012 3:10 AM

Hi, I recently merged old Microsoft account and Skype account.
One thing really bothers me is I don't like to use my MS username with @hotmail.com to sign into Skype. I just want to use only username without @hotmail.com.
Is there any way to change or get rid of @hotmail to be only only Skype Name ?
If there is no way... then I would make new Skype account. no choice!!!

Abadi
November 20, 2012 4:12 PM

Please, I logged with my hotmail account and merge it with my skype account BUT i not see my old skype contacts !!!!

I logged by skype name and no contacts !!!

where is my skype contacts, and how to recover it ?

Just Me
November 22, 2012 5:33 PM

Speaking of Skype,
which I don't use anyway,
never had a good enough connection to actually use it,

here's a funny little item,
I have a fairly Recent win7 x64 HP laptop, that I picked up in May 2012
which along with a ton of other bloat, comes shipped with Skype 5.5 installed as part of the "HP Experience"

now I turn on my system one day a few weeks ago to find in the new win updates list:
Optional Update: > Skype 5.1

huh?
um, if I have 5.5 why do I need to "update" to 5.1?
seems strange to me that already having 5.5
I should be not offered 5.1

sorta like going out to get a new win7 or win8 system and shortly after setting it up getting an update notification that says I can now update to XP

Ky
November 29, 2012 4:25 PM

Ok...several MAJOR problems here:

1) Currently, ONLY Messenger users with HOTMAIL emails can successfully merge. Those of us who've been on Messenger since it's original MSN days are currently SOL.

2) You can only have ONE Skype account logged in at a time, unlike Messenger with PLUS, where you can have your personal and business IM accounts logged in at the same time. This is unacceptable, as I work online!!

3) Many of the necessary features, like sharing certain types of files, are not supported on Skype. Again...work related, so Skype is NOT an option.

4) Apparently, according to rumor, the text-only form of messaging on Skype is soon being done away with on W8. Again, unacceptable. There are times when a video call is NOT wanted, warranted or even polite for doing business.

5) My Skype account is registered with a GMail email, and is linked to my Facebook, which shares said GMail email. My MSN/Messenger account is registered with a Yahoo email. To merge them, I will have to trash the GMail credentials, which means I lose all of my Facebook contacts...as they are merged via email. If you've ever tried to get your email changed on Facebook, you KNOW what a pain that is.

Apparently, Microsoft doesn't even care about these serious issues.

Chiyaa
December 17, 2012 3:20 AM

Hi,I have update my Skype that is merged with Microsoft but when I logged in with Microsoft Id from SKype.....I am not having any calling option ,if I want to call my Msn Friend- why is that so that voice calling access is given to Skype users not for MSN user. please help me that how may I do voice call to Microsoft messenger friends. Hope to hear an early reply to resolve this issue.

Vignesh
December 25, 2012 3:22 AM

Hi,
I upgraded to Skype and the prob is it is not integrated to Facebook as MSN is! and the groups are also lost!!

Regards,

Robert smith
December 26, 2012 7:23 PM

I think it's a travesty that Microsoft would make us use a program like messenger for free and replace it with Skype that we have to pay a monthly fee for. I am considering selling my Microsoft stock. Why would anyone be stupid enough to pay for something they should get from Microsoft for free.

Mark J
December 27, 2012 6:23 AM

@Robert Smith
IM on Skype is free. Skype to Skype video phoning is also free. They only charge for features like calling a land line from Skype or having s Skype phone number accessible from a land line and things like that.

martina
January 10, 2013 5:36 AM

Robert Smith - I have been using Skype for about six years now and I have never had to pay any fee. The only money I spent via Skype was a credit for calling landlines or mobile phones.

No monthly fee... Skype is as free as MSN. Unless to use it to make calls...)

Raul
January 10, 2013 5:34 PM

Well, so Messenger is going away. Good, since I don't use it. Thanks to Google, I have video chat, chat, phone service (Google Voice), email, and Hangouts. GTALK works great. All integrated. Contacts synched in my tablet, PC, and phone. I DO use Skype from time to time (friends have Skype still, and trying to convince them to move to Google), so hopefully I will be able to retain it without having to MERGE accounts.

Alex Denham
January 11, 2013 4:48 AM

Messenger and Skype merge? What a JOKE!!!!
Skype will not let hotmail users sign in, have just done all this and now am being told i cannot sign in with my hotmail details. Rubbish!

Amedeo Elias
January 14, 2013 1:38 AM

Awful decision..... to merge Live Messenger with Skype, and as many other users I do no agree about it at all - We believe that the best solution is to have Yahoo Messenger at least they didn't change much and the messaging way with other users is efficient as Windows live messenger - Best regards

George Green
January 16, 2013 7:01 AM

Skype does not work properly on Windows 8, it crashes each time you shut down your PC or restart it. Each time I try to restart or shut down a popup message tells me Skype is preventing my system from shutting down or restart it. And Guess what, the Skype support is SHIT! They don't care, just one person apparently in a forum that nobody goes to. he told me I had to disable Auto start up and uPnP to make this error go away! Why should I have to? and why do I have to miss out on Auto start up/ I've always been signed in Automatically with Windows Live! BAD BAD Karma Microsoft! I think I'll just use Facebook Messaging from now on.

Sid James
January 17, 2013 7:41 AM

I had the same problem initially when trying to sign into Skype with my Hotmail account. Make sure you download and install the latest version of Skype before you try. I had an older version (not too old) and it wouldn't let me sign in. The new version has an Hotmail signing look/feel to it. Once you've signed in you can create a new Skype account with it or merge with an existing Skype account. The problem I have now is that with MSN I could send and receive files and also have an alert when a new Email arrived in my Hotmail account. With Skype all these features are missing, tis a pain really. May switch to ICQ or trillian.

Val Rushton
February 4, 2013 5:57 AM

I already have Skype and the same people on my msn are on there too can I just leave things as they are and not update

connie
February 4, 2013 1:53 PM

@Val,
What Microsoft want's us to do is to merge the two accounts. My guess is that eventually they'll force us all to do it. But there is no reason to do it right away if you don't want to.

The merge worked smoothly for me, but it sounds like others are having problems with it, so waiting until some of the bugs are worked out would be just fine.

some guy
February 7, 2013 6:39 PM

I hate this decision, but microsoft is being lame as always. If you're gonna merge them both don't just force people to use skype, at least insert a few features that msn has like games, custom emoticons, sounds and custom fonts etc... they should also change Skype's interface, it looks so dull and boring it makes my eyes bleed, if nothing is done about Skype I won't even bother to use it.

Gerald Eberwein
March 29, 2013 8:38 PM

I read the other comments and nothing answered my questions.
Messenger is on my computer, but I have never used it. The system automatically logged me on after an update and I logged off when I found what had happened. I have never used Messenger and I don't intend to use Skype. What if I don't want Skype?
Will Microsoft automatically open an account for that service?
To my knowledge I have no contacts to shift over (I checked Messenger for that feature and got a zero contacts reply) so that should not be a problem. Microsoft says there are parts of Messenger that are needed for other programs to run properly so I can't uninstall it from my computer. Even If I don't allow a Skype account and don't install it, will the parts of messenger not being used be uninstalled at a later time?
Will I be given an e-mail message advising exactly when this migration event for my situation is going to occur? (BTW the sometime after [date] is not sufficient.) I want to be at my computer when anything like this happens.

Unfortunately with millions of users there no way that then can schedule a specific time for each. In your case, honestly, I'd ignore the whole mess. I'm surprised that you can't uninstall messenger, because I can't think of a single thing that depends on it. I know I *don't* have it installed on any of my machines. Now that I think of it I'd be really tempted to uninstall it anyway. Take a system backup before if it makes you nervous.
Leo
30-Mar-2013

Ken
April 6, 2013 2:58 AM

Microsoft strikes again. I,v just upgraded my outlook.com/Msm to the latest version on win 8. My messenger account has now disapeared and been replaced by skype. apart from all the problems other people seam to be encountering I have another one. All the folders i created in messenger have also gone. These folders are a must for me as some contain such things as paypal receipts, pending transactions, Drafts ext. I may be doing something wrong but I've just spent the last hour trying to navigate this piece of junk and am at a loss. I don't use skype,and probably never will. Upgrade, you must be joking!!!!!. If this is it I to will be switching to Gmail.

I do believe you are confusing the Hotmail/Outlook.com transition and the Messenger/Skype transition.

The email program is Hotmail, which is being converted to the Outlook.com user interface. This is where I would expect to find folder, NOT in Messenger or Skype.

Messenger, being converted to Skype, is the instant messaging program actually fairly unrelated to Hotmail or Outlook.com.
Leo
07-Apr-2013

Sean
April 6, 2013 3:57 AM

I'm going to have to disagree with some of the point in this article regarding the change from Messenger to Skpe.

"That doesn't mean you'll lose anything at all" - actually, I did lose something: email notifications, which I consider incredibly important as I don't want Outlook running all the time. I also lost a well-designed, good-looking user interface. Skype looks like crap and takes up far too much room on the desktop.

"You can do everything with Skype that you would do with Messenger and more." That's just not true. I can't set Skype to check and notify me of new emails. Or, if this is an option, it seems to be incredibly well buried, because I went through every menu option and saw nothing about it.

After trying Skype, I quickly became convinced that the change from Messenger to Skype was not a good thing. I uninstalled Skype as a result.

jaycee
May 2, 2013 8:54 AM

Like many others, I've used Messenger for quite a while, and in common with 'Ken' who wrote on 6/4/13 "I've lost my folders", I've also lost a lot and don't know how to get them back! I'm really annoyed about it, because there was no real warning this would happen. I already had Skype, and have been happy with it, using regularly to call abroad, but do not feel the need to have it connected to my email - I'm not 11! I didn't use Messenger for IM, but had a lot of folders saved on this account, so where are they and how do I get them back? (In simple terms, please - I'm not a techno-geek!) Thanks

Nick
May 22, 2013 2:09 PM

I since they shut down messenger I have not loaded Skype and absolute rubbish program.
I also tried windows 8 lasted 1hours on my PC before I formatted and went back to 7, got rid off my windows 8 on ebay, it doesn't play DVD's try launching internet explorer from the new men and it hides all your favorites and the menus worse interface ever. didn't MS learn with the vista fiasco or is they got in some new monkeys to program and had them smoke some magic weed

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