Messenger phases out, Skype updates, and messaging on Microsoft is still a bit of a mess

By Kip Kniskern | In Opinion | Posted April 1, 2013 22 comments

msgr iconsNext 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!

Posted April 1st, 2013 at 12:53 pm
Category: Opinion
Tags: Lync, Messenger, Skype
  • markjonson

    A bit of a mess? That’s quite an understatement. The fact that Skype and Messenger deliver every message individually on Windows 8 and Windows Phone, and that there’s no way to turn off the Skype messaging notifications without uninstalling it is quite an oversight. I want Skype on my devices for voice and video chat, but the built-in Messenger is far better than some app. They really need to get that straightened out fast.
    Ideally, they should just rename the built-in Messenger/Messaging Hub in Windows 8/Phone to Skype Messenger, then use the app for voice and video only.

  • markjonson

    A bit of a mess? That’s quite an understatement. The fact that Skype and Messenger deliver every message individually on Windows 8 and Windows Phone, and that there’s no way to turn off the Skype messaging notifications without uninstalling it is quite an oversight. I want Skype on my devices for voice and video chat, but the built-in Messenger is far better than some app. They really need to get that straightened out fast.
    Ideally, they should just rename the built-in Messenger/Messaging Hub in Windows 8/Phone to Skype Messenger, then use the app for voice and video only.

  • Aaron

    I’ve been using Trillian for ages. It is super simple and supports all major networks. Easy combining of contacts from different networks to manage their online presence and history in one place.

    Never tried the mobile clients (though I know they’re out there).

  • Aaron

    I’ve been using Trillian for ages. It is super simple and supports all major networks. Easy combining of contacts from different networks to manage their online presence and history in one place.

    Never tried the mobile clients (though I know they’re out there).

  • NicolaMantovani

    Messenger app is a stop-gap until Metro Skype gets FB support, it should be clear to anybody by this point (and by the empty changelog in the last round of app updates)

  • NicolaMantovani

    Messenger app is a stop-gap until Metro Skype gets FB support, it should be clear to anybody by this point (and by the empty changelog in the last round of app updates)

  • wasapasserby

    I can only assume Lync exists because of political reasons (read: the powerful fiefdom within Microsoft that is Office) rather than an actual market need to deliver three separate messaging programs.

  • wasapasserby

    I can only assume Lync exists because of political reasons (read: the powerful fiefdom within Microsoft that is Office) rather than an actual market need to deliver three separate messaging programs.

  • Jamie

    The biggest mess I’d say is that Skype is still not truly a Microsoft product yet (in terms of being part of Microsoft’s eco-system). All of Microsoft’s services (such as Windows Phone, all the Windows 8 apps, Xbox, Outlook.com, even WLM, etc.) all use Microsoft’s connected services (i.e. the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/etc. association set in your Microsoft account). Which in turn, also brings contact linking so it does not show duplicates. Skype, however, is still a standalone service even though it uses the Messenger backend now. Facebook contacts have to be manually added, Messenger and Skype contacts are still separate, and you can’t view your Twitter/LinkedIn contacts at all like you can on WLM. It’s not fully integrated into Microsoft’s eco-system, which is a big disconnect and doesn’t make sense why they are pushing Skype at this point when it’s not truly part of the family yet.

    • Mario Albertico

      Couldn’t agree more… I decided to take on the “jump to Skype” challenge a few months ago, hoping to find some kind of solution that would live up to the marketing push to drop WLM. But no, although I did uninstall WLM and now only have Skype, I feel like I dropped my Microsoft linked contact list altogether. For quite a while, I was expecting to see my Microsoft contacts, Skype contacts, and linked contacts all unified in the same IM instance, but far from it, because like you said, Skype still feels like a standalone service.

      • Richard Barrs

        On the login screen for Skype, be sure to login with your Microsoft credentials. This will load all messenger contacts, and Skype contacts into Skype. Be aware that to log in with your Microsoft account, you need to hit a button on the Skype program main login screen that allows the use of an alternative login screen.

        • Mario Albertico

          Wow! I thought I tried that and had only seen my Messenger contacts…interesting. Well this is actually how I hoped it would work, glad you pointed it out. Thanks!

  • Jamie

    The biggest mess I’d say is that Skype is still not truly a Microsoft product yet (in terms of being part of Microsoft’s eco-system). All of Microsoft’s services (such as Windows Phone, all the Windows 8 apps, Xbox, Outlook.com, even WLM, etc.) all use Microsoft’s connected services (i.e. the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/etc. association set in your Microsoft account). Which in turn, also brings contact linking so it does not show duplicates. Skype, however, is still a standalone service even though it uses the Messenger backend now. Facebook contacts have to be manually added, Messenger and Skype contacts are still separate, and you can’t view your Twitter/LinkedIn contacts at all like you can on WLM. It’s not fully integrated into Microsoft’s eco-system, which is a big disconnect and doesn’t make sense why they are pushing Skype at this point when it’s not truly part of the family yet.

    • Mario Albertico

      Couldn’t agree more… I decided to take on the “jump to Skype” challenge a few months ago, hoping to find some kind of solution that would live up to the marketing push to drop WLM. But no, although I did uninstall WLM and now only have Skype, I feel like I dropped my Microsoft linked contact list altogether. For quite a while, I was expecting to see my Microsoft contacts, Skype contacts, and linked contacts all unified in the same IM instance, but far from it, because like you said, Skype still feels like a standalone service.

      • Richard Barrs

        On the login screen for Skype, be sure to login with your Microsoft credentials. This will load all messenger contacts, and Skype contacts into Skype. Be aware that to log in with your Microsoft account, you need to hit a button on the Skype program main login screen that allows the use of an alternative login screen.

        • Mario Albertico

          Wow! I thought I tried that and had only seen my Messenger contacts…interesting. Well this is actually how I hoped it would work, glad you pointed it out. Thanks!

  • eternaloptimist1971

    “Microsoft’s concept of “Messaging”, offering simple, powerful, and unobtrusive messaging capabilities across its ecosystem is so far falling far short of its goal.”

    This doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Microsoft seems to have no clue when it comes to stuff like this. The core apps that MS released with Win8 are a joke when compared to what the other Big companies offered, and even the updates since fall far short. MS can’t even get their damn calendar to look the same as everything else, even after moving Outlook.com from Beta.

    This mess with Skype replacing Messenger is more than likely going to follow suit with the rest of the chaos that is Microsoft when it comes to stuff like this. The only section they don’t seem to have problems with is Office, but I’m still scratching my head when it comes to why they even bother coming out with Lync.

    What really is the problem here? Is it management or the design team that is failing the public?

  • http://www.facebook.com/PositiveNRG Christopher King

    “Microsoft’s concept of “Messaging”, offering simple, powerful, and unobtrusive messaging capabilities across its ecosystem is so far falling far short of its goal.”

    This doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Microsoft seems to have no clue when it comes to stuff like this. The core apps that MS released with Win8 are a joke when compared to what the other Big companies offered, and even the updates since fall far short. MS can’t even get their damn calendar to look the same as everything else, even after moving Outlook.com from Beta.

    This mess with Skype replacing Messenger is more than likely going to follow suit with the rest of the chaos that is Microsoft when it comes to stuff like this. The only section they don’t seem to have problems with is Office, but I’m still scratching my head when it comes to why they even bother coming out with Lync.

    What really is the problem here? Is it management or the design team that is failing the public?

  • TecknoTot

    I been using Skype for Desktop over the Skype Windows 8 app because the messages come quicker on the Desktop version. Its very odd because I would think they should both come quickly.

  • TecknoTot

    I been using Skype for Desktop over the Skype Windows 8 app because the messages come quicker on the Desktop version. Its very odd because I would think they should both come quickly.

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    new messaging companies are rising like liunkb2p.com, there you can send messages in a word search format to entertain your friens

  • http://twitter.com/linkb2p linkb2p

    new messaging companies are rising like liunkb2p.com, there you can send messages in a word search format to entertain your friens