Netizens on the Chinese mainland can continue using the MSN and Hotmail services although Microsoft Corp will close the Windows Live Messenger (MSN) service in overseas markets and replace it with Skype from the first quarter of next year, the US software giant said Wednesday.
Chinese users raised concerns about their MSN contacts and e-mail service after a report on Tuesday spread widely saying that Microsoft would soon shut down MSN globally. Microsoft confirmed the news yesterday but emphasized that MSN and Hotmail services would remain on the mainland.
Microsoft said it will continue to develop MSN and Skype services in China so that users can enjoy "different" experiences.
"As the era of multi-screen has arrived, we conform to the trend by revamping our business strategy," Anderson Liu, general manager of MSN China, said in a statement.
The company said it will strengthen online advertising business, including AiA (Ads in Apps) and traditional display advertising based on MSN China website.
It's estimated that there are 15 million Chinese mainland users of these services now, industry insiders said.
But MSN faces challenges in the domestic market from rivals, including Tencent's QQ and Sina Weibo.
Microsoft last year bought Skype for US$8.5 billion in a move seen as aimed at boosting its presence in an online arena dominated by Google and Facebook.
"Skype and Messenger are coming together," Skype said in a post at its website. "By updating to Skype, Messenger users can instant message and video call their Messenger friends."
The transition began a few weeks ago with the release of Skype 6.0 software that lets people sign into the online communication service using Microsoft accounts.
Skype was founded in 2003 and acquired by online auction giant eBay in September 2005. It was sold to an investment group led by Silver Lake in November 2009 in a deal that valued the company at US$2.75 billion.