Confirming rumors we heard yesterday, Microsoft has confirmed that it will shut down Windows Messenger Live and migrate almost all of its users to Skype, the company announced in a blog post.

Messenger service will be cut off in the first quarter of 2013 for all users around the world, expect for those in mainland China. Tony Bates, President of the Microsoft’s Skype division, writes:

We’ve got good news to share! Skype and Messenger are coming together. Millions of Messenger users will be able to reach their Messenger friends on Skype. By updating to Skype, Messenger users can instant message and video call their Messenger friends.

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This effort started with the release of Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows a few weeks ago, which allows you to sign into Skype using a Microsoft account. Now Messenger users just need to update to the latest version of Skype, sign in using a Microsoft account, and their Messenger contacts will be there.

Our goal remains to deliver the best communications experience for everyone, everywhere. We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience. We will retire Messenger in all countries worldwide in the first quarter of 2013 (with the exception of mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available).

Microsoft has provided instructions in the blog post on how to migrate your Messenger contacts over to Skype. If you already have accounts for both Skype and Messenger, you can merge your accounts together into one Microsoft account.

Photo credit: Microsoft