Microsoft is giving its popular Windows Live Messenger service the chop, in an effort to herd the chatting online masses onto Skype instead.
"We will retire Messenger in all countries worldwide in the first quarter of 2013," confirms Tony Bates, the president of Microsoft's Skype division, on Skype's blog.
That means fans of Microsoft's enduring IM client have until the end of March next year to enjoy the free software, at which point Ballmer and pals will be hitting the kill switch.
You'll still be able to access all your Messenger contacts -- as long as you start using the latest version of Skype, that is. The newest edition of the Microsoft-owned text and voice-chat service lets you sign in using your Messenger ID, which will let you chat with all your existing Messenger buddies.
Skype also promises new features for those who make the switch, including support for more devices, such as the and Android tablets, as well as video calling with Facebook friends, screen sharing and group video calls.
Microsoft boasted in 2009 that its Messenger chat service attracted 330 million users every month, while The Next Web reports that today it has nearer 100 million. That's certainly a decline, but is still a huge number of web denizens to displace.
I'll be waving a sad farewell to Messenger. Although it's by no means an essential bit of software anymore, in its heyday the then MSN Messenger was monumentally popular. I'm sure I'm not the only one who frittered away endless evenings using the then-cutting-edge IM tech to talk nonsense with school friends.
Are you upset that Microsoft's giving Messenger the boot? Or is it time to move on? Reminisce in the comments or on our Facebook wall.