Next week, Microsoft will begin the process of moving users off of their Windows Live Messenger clients and onto Skype, something that Messenger users are well aware of due to a barrage of recent email messages informing us of the change.
But in less than a year, Microsoft has gone from one main messaging source to three, well four if you count Lync (today’s “news”, that Microsoft is rebranding Skype as Lync, was an April Fool’s prank by TechAU.tv, although it still isn’t clear why they both exist). Add to that integration with Facebook chat, and for end users just opening a chat client, connecting, and communicating with your friends has gone from what lovingly now looks like a simple experience, to a mish-mosh of clients, late notifications, mixed up accounts, and missed messages.
Just in the past few days (although it’s a recurring set of events), we’ve seen messages get totally lost, had messages sent from Skype arrive on Windows 8 Messaging hours or even up to a day late, have a persistent problem with two of our Messenger contacts having their profile information switched, and have had to turn of Windows 8 Messaging due to its almost random appearance.
While we expect that most if not all of these issues are short term, they’ve still made a ubiquitous messaging experience far less so, and it’s getting to the point where we just aren’t comfortable that the messages we send are being received, which wasn’t the case in using Messenger most of the time.
We’re not sure what the end game is for Microsoft, and to be honest, we’re not sure if they know either. The Messenger client is on its way out, although there are at least some indications that it won’t be fully gone for more than a year from now, and that’s only on Windows. On iOS and Android, Messenger is living on for the present, and it’s unclear what the future of those clients will be.
Skype is a clear leader moving forward, but even with its latest updates, it’s missing many of the features that made Messenger a simple and powerful tool, including being able to drag and drop images or screenshots, a feature we used every day with Messenger.
To be honest, we’re not quite sure what each of the messaging clients offers or doesn’t offer (hey, blog post idea!), but it shouldn’t be this hard. Microsoft’s concept of “Messaging”, offering simple, powerful, and unobtrusive messaging capabilities across its ecosystem is so far falling far short of its goal. Of course Microsoft has a long history of multiple messaging personalities, going all the way back to the days of Windows Messenger and MSN Messenger, and so we shouldn’t be surprised that the confusion continues to this day.
Are you satisfied with your messaging experience? Do you even “IM” anyone anymore, or is it all text and Twitter? What client(s) are you using, have you made the switch to Skype? Let us know in the comments!