Microsoft’s 15 year run with MSN Messenger, also known as Windows Live Messenger, will soon be coming to an end. After phasing out the legacy messaging program over a year ago in most parts of the world, Microsoft will shut the service down once and for all on October 31.

Back in 1999, text messaging hadn’t yet caught on and social networking services like Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. If you wanted to talk to someone online, you used an instant messaging service like AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).

Microsoft launched a competing service, MSN Messenger, in 1999. By reverse-engineering AOL’s chat protocol, MSN Messenger could actually sign into AIM – a fact that AOL wasn’t too thrilled about.

This essentially launched a chat war as AOL would block access and Microsoft would figure out another way around it on a daily basis. There’s a fascinating piece by the programmer responsible for coming up with the idea if you’re interested in digging a bit deeper on the subject.

Microsoft added a number of new features to MSN Messenger over the years but there's no escaping Father Time. The Redmond-based company ultimately announced plans to replace the program with Skype in late 2012 and has pretty much done so in every region except China, a country that didn’t yet have a strong Skype presence.

Now more than a year later, Microsoft is finally ready to retire the IM client once and for all as we say goodbye to an icon of the chat era.