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Apple to shutter Messages preview for OS X Lion users in mid-December

Sorry, freeloaders. Er, beta testers. Apple is officially starting to notify OS X Lion users enrolled in its preview test of the company's Messages app that the preview program will officially end on 14 December.

The app, basically a combination of iMessages and iChat, allows users to perform the simple task of talking to their friends while engaging in more advanced features like sharing their screens or jumping into a video chat, to name a few fun tricks.

Additionally, Messages synchronises with the iMessages app on a user's iPhone: In other words, users can jump between Messages and iMessages and they'll be able to continue their conversations without fuss. Unlike some conventional messaging apps, the desktop and mobile Messages worlds aren't two mutually exclusive entities.

Unfortunately, that world will be forever lost to those running OS X Lion come mid-December. The app, which started out as a free beta download for OS X Lion users, has now been officially integrated directly into OS X Mountain Lion, the official successor to version 10.7 of OS X.

What does that mean? If you're currently enjoying Messages on your OS X Lion installation, you're going to be almost completely out of luck once the cutoff date hits. Your only real option, if you want to continue reaping the benefits of the Messages, is to upgrade to Mountain Lion itself.

On the plus side, said upgrade would currently only set you back £13.99 - that's the price, as of this article's writing, for the download of OS X Mountain Lion via the Mac App Store.