It's been confirmed that moving forward Skype and Messenger are to become one. The shift started with Skype 6.0 (Windows/Mac) as users have been able to log in using Microsoft account credentials since this latest release. Microsoft expects to retire Messenger worlwide in the first quarter of 2013, except for China where we assume Skype doesn't have a strong penetration.

With Skype taking over, Microsoft is touting more features for Messenger users including mobile support on iOS and Android, better video call features, Facebook integration and group calling.

Original story is below:

After more than a decade at the forefront of Microsoft's IM strategy it appears that Windows Live Messenger is ready to take a back seat to Skype. According to The Verge, multiple sources have confirmed that Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger service will be retired in the coming months, but the technology behind it will live on.

The backend of Messenger will be moved over to the Skype client, so users will still be able to login to their accounts and see their contacts, only they'll do it from the Skype interface. Microsoft has been making the transition over the past few months and already around 80% of all IMs sent on Skype are reportedly being handled by Messenger. Starting with version 6.0 of Skype, users are also greeted with the option to log in using a Microsoft or Facebook account.

The Verge says that Microsoft will announce the retirement of Windows Live Messenger before the end of the year, possibly as early as this week. The company has been working hard to optimize Skype for Xbox with Kinect, Windows Phone, Windows 8, and even TVs, so it makes sense to tie their other IM service into a single brand. It's unclear if their Lync communications product for businesses will follow suit.