Microsoft Sets Date for Merger of Instant-Messenger Services

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If you're one of the millions who love using Microsoft's ( MSFT) Windows Live Messenger service, you need to heed the following warning: Messenger is closing down March 15 (except in mainland China).

This is not a new idea. Microsoft warned us, a few months ago, that it was going to be doing this.

The idea behind the move is simple: Microsoft owns Messenger and also owns Skype, which has its own instant-messaging feature. To answer the question: "Why would Microsoft support two IM platforms?" The answer is: It won't.

According to The Next Web, as of March 15 Windows Live Messenger fans will all have their accounts moved to the Skype Messenger service.

In a new email message, Microsoft told Live Messenger users they should:

"Update to Skype and sign in using a Microsoft Account (same as your Messenger ID) and all your Messenger contacts will be at your fingertips. You'll be able to instant message and video chat with them just like before, and also discover new ways of staying in touch with Skype on your mobile and tablet."

For the record, Microsoft paid $8.5 billion for Skype in October 2011.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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