Microsoft’s MSN Messenger, or Windows Live Messenger as it was known in most places after 2006, bit the dust in April 2013 — but not everywhere. It continued operations on the Chinese mainland, thanks to a censorship-friendly (but now defunct) joint venture between Skype and local internet portal Tom.com.
However, reports on Thursday (spotted by ZDNet) indicate that this era, too, is coming to an end. MSN users in China have received an email from Microsoft telling them that Messenger will be shut down at the end of October.
The users are being shuffled over to Skype, which is these days being run in partnership with Guangming Founder (GMF), a local joint venture – the Chinese Skype is modified to follow “Chinese regulations” but advocacy group GreatFire has suggested it is now less censorship-friendly. Each user will get a complimentary $2 coupon as part of the shift.
ZDNet suggests the success of Tencent‘s QQ messaging service was the final nail in MSN Messenger’s coffin – QQ now has 200 million users. Skype has significantly fewer: Microsoft said last year that Chinese user numbers were below 100 million, though it didn’t give a precise number.