Apple will be ending its beta program on December 14 for testing its new Messages service that is part of OS X Mountain Lion and iOS.
In releases of OS X prior to Mountain Lion, Apple included its iChat instant messaging program that consolidated numerous messaging services such as Jabber, AIM, and Yahoo chat into one interface; however, this did not integrate with Apple's own iMessage and FaceTime services that it included in the iPhone as alternatives to SMS messaging.
To tackle this gap, Apple released Messages Beta for OS X in February as part of the Mountain Lion developer preview to help test the service. While the service was included with the developer preview, Apple also made a beta program available for Lion, which a number of users adopted and have been using since; however, Apple has announced in recent emails to users that support for this program will end on Friday, December 14.
The Messages Beta program for Lion will end on Friday, December 14, 2012. We hope you've enjoyed the opportunity to preview Messages.
If you'd like to continue using Messages, upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store. Messages is one of many great new apps and features built right into OS X Mountain Lion. Learn More.
Thank you for your participation in the Messages Beta program.
This announcement is not the first indication of Apple's impending end of the beta program for Lion. At the annual Developer Conference in June, Apple withdrew the download of Messages for Lion from its Web site, a month before the release of OS X Mountain Lion.
With this latest development, Apple will only be supporting Messages in OS X Mountain Lion or later, and those that are still running Lion will see a halt in the service. This does not mean that the program will not continue to run and support alternative services like AIM and Yahoo chat, but will not work to contact iPhone and OS X users using the iMessage protocol.
If you are a Lion user and would like to continue using Messages, then you will need to upgrade to Mountain Lion. Luckily this is only a $20 purchase through the Mac App Store; however, it does put a few users in a bit of a tight area since not all systems that run Lion and the Messages Beta program can be upgraded to Mountain Lion. Unfortunately in these situations, while the Messages program may continue to open, users will have to resort to other messaging protocols to send messages.