Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows Live Messenger, formerly known as MSN, worldwide Monday but Chinese users will continue to use the service on China's mainland under a complicated joint venture.
Microsoft had earlier announced that it would pull the plug on MSN globally but said users on the mainland could still use MSN due to a complicated shareholding structure of the joint venture between TOM.com and Skype. The joint venture, in which Skype owns 51 percent, has been running MSN on the mainland since 2007.
But Chinese MSN users have been experiencing patchy difficulties after Microsoft's announcement about pulling the plug on MSN.
"Recently my MSN account kept logging on and off, which is a bit annoying. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with their pulling off the service worldwide," said Ruby Yuan, a white-collar worker in Shanghai, who uses MSN for work daily.
Another white-collar worker named Ethel Ouyang said she also has difficulties with MSN as well as Hotmail, Microsoft's free e-mail service.
MSN once attracted 20 million users in China, the world's biggest Internet market by users, and is favored by white-collar workers. The number has now dropped to 15 million due to challenges from domestic rivals like Tencent's QQ and WeChat, and Sina Weibo, said industry insiders.
At its peak MSN was the most popular software for chatting online with 300 million users in more than 60 countries in 2010, but the rise of Skype, Facebook and Twitter has caused a fall to 100 million users.
Microsoft said earlier that existing users worldwide will be incorporated into Skype, which it bought in 2011 for US$8.5 million.