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Messenger's last 'LOL': Microsoft announces veteran IM client to retire in March

Microsoft has confirmed that it will be retiring its Messenger service, announcing 15 March as the date the veteran IM client will 'lol' for the last time.

Announcing the change via email, Microsoft said that it was "bringing the great features of Messenger and Skype together." The merger will affect all users except those in mainland China, who will hang on to Messenger for the time being.

Messenger boasts more than 100 million users and has been central to Microsoft's online presence since 1999, when the 'MSN Messenger Service' was introduced in a bid to compete with AOL Instant Messenger.

However, since the Redmond-based firm's May 2011 acquisition of leading VoIP service Skype for $8.5 billion (£5.3bn), Messenger has been on borrowed time, and in November 2012, Microsoft committed to shuttering Messenger in Q1 2012.

Fortunately for users of the dying client, migrating your account sounds simple enough: just head over to Skype and install the appropriate app. Sign in with your existing Microsoft account and the software will do the rest, including importing all of your Messenger contacts.

While retrogrades will no doubt mourn the loss of the dedicated IM service, there's little doubt that Skype is a more comprehensive platform, also allowing users to make voice and video calls as well as offering Facebook integration.