I don't know many people who still use Microsoft's Messenger service. Starting April 8, though, that number is going to shrink rapidly to zero. Microsoft announced earlier today that the "upgrade from Messenger to Skype on Windows desktop" will begin on that date.
The transition will "take a few weeks to complete," with English-language users to be the first ones shepherded away from the deprecated Messenger service. Users in other countries will follow over the next few weeks, with folks in Brazil to be served last—"on April 30 or later." There will be one exception: mainland China, where the Messenger service will "continue to be available." Microsoft doesn't quote a phase-out schedule for that region.
None of this should come as a surprise, of course. Messenger users have been encouraged to switch to Skype for several months now. Back in November of last year, Microsoft announced that users would be able to log into Skype with their Microsoft account and connect with their Messenger contacts right from the Skype client app. The company also stated:
Our goal remains to deliver the best communications experience for everyone, everywhere. We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience. We will retire Messenger in all countries worldwide in the first quarter of 2013 (with the exception of mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available).
I can't say Messenger's retirement is a great loss. Old-school instant messaging protocols like AIM, ICQ, and Messenger have lost much of their appeal now that Facebook, Twitter, and Google Talk are around and so easily accessible. Heck, even Skype is facing competition from newfangled social media services. I still find it more convenient than browser-based video chatting and VoIP solutions, though.