Microsoft has announced that it would be migrating all users of its Messenger service to Skype, and shutting down Messenger on 15th March 2013 in all regions except mainland China. The company has started sending emails to Messenger users informing them about the date, mentioning that it would be integrating features of Messenger in Skype, according to ZDNet. The move follows Microsoft’s previous announcement in November 2012, on the Skype Blog, where it had mentioned plans to retire Messenger in the first quarter of 2013.

Microsoft had integrated the ability to sign-in via Microsoft accounts in Skype starting with Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows, and started displaying users’ Messenger contacts within Skype in later versions, and on Skype for Windows 8. Users simply need to login to Skype using their Microsoft accounts, following which they’d get the option of signing-in via their Skype user credentials and of merging the Skype account with the Microsoft ID. Skype also allows users to access their Facebook contacts, and Facebook’s video chat is powered by Skype.

Microsoft had acquired Skype for $8.5 million, in May 2011, and had started integrating the popular VoIP service with its products. Recently, Microsoft had announced a version of Skype for Windows Phone 8 which has the ability to run in the background (unlike the version for WP 7.5), and deeper integration with the phone’s ‘People Hub’.

Last quarter, Microsoft reported 280 million Skype users and 120 billion minutes of Skype calls during the quarter, up 58% YoY. In contrast, Microsoft’s Messenger is used by more than 100 million people. While Skype did offer text messaging, the service is mainly popular for video conferencing. Following the integration, Microsoft would only need to focus on the development of one integrated service. It also makes more sense to end-users as they move from computer focused p2p messaging to device agnostic p2p messaging. Skype offers support for a wider range of mobile devices, plus a number of users who have access to high speed mobile internet might prefer to video chat instead of using text based messaging.