Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger, originally known as MSN Messenger, will be switched off in China in October, marking a final end to the 15-year-old service.
MSN Messenger was launched in 1999 but was switched off for most users in 2013, after Microsoft bought rival Skype.
Users in China continued to use the old service but will now be transferred to Skype by October 31.
Windows Live still had as many as 330 million users as recently as 2009.
MSN Messenger will be switched off in China in October, marking a final end to the 15-year-old service
However, those numbers later declined, while users of Skype rose to nearly 300 million by 2012.
The service came to China in 2005, but later faced stiff competition from domestic rivals such as QQ messenger, built by Chinese firm Tencent.
A number of Chinese Windows Live users received emails from Microsoft on Thursday, Chinese newspapers reported, informing them of the planned closure.
The emails told users they would get free Skype credit when they migrated over to the new service, the newspaper said.
MSN Messenger began as a simple text chat service in 1999, a rival to AOL’s AIM service and ICQ.
It later added features such as photo delivery, video calls and games as the technology developed.
Microsoft’s purchase of Skype for $8.5 billion in 2012 spelled the beginning of the end for the service.
Microsoft is switching off its Windows Live Messenger service on March 15.
On March 15 Messenger log-ins will no longer work and users must turn to Skype, said Microsoft in an email sent to all Messenger users.
The email also encouraged users to update to Skype and familiarize themselves with the service before the switch-off.
The service switch is a consequence of Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype in October 2011 for $8.5 billion.
In November 2012, Microsoft announced that it was switching off Live Messenger in early 2013 but gave no firm date. At the same time, Microsoft made it possible for Messenger users to talk to and swap messages with contacts via Skype.
Microsoft is switching off its Windows Live Messenger service on March 15
To help people migrate before March 15, Microsoft has added an upgrade button to its desktop Messenger that when clicked uninstalls Messenger and puts Skype in its place.
Until the switch-off date Messenger would work as it always did, said Microsoft.
The Windows Live Messenger instant messaging program was known as MSN Messenger when it first launched in 1999. The service is believed to be used by about 300 million people every month.
China is the only nation in which Messenger will keep operating, because it is run under licence there.