Original publish date: January 11th, 2013
If you are deciding on the move to Skype (you absolutely must make a move by March 15th), this review may help you. This review compares Windows Live Messenger and Skype, so you can see what you will get if you make the move to Skype.
One thing in common is that these two programs obviously requires active internet connection to function fully.
About the user interface, Skype starts off with a clean, expanded user interface like that of Windows Live Messenger 2011 and later, but with Skype you can go back to classic compact view in the view menu, but with Messenger you click a button to switch to the classic compact user interface.
Supported operating systems: Skype, up to the latest version as of this writing, supports Windows as old as Windows XP or even Windows 2000, whereas Messenger as of version 2011 supports Windows Vista or later, and version 2012 supports Windows 7 and later. However both of them supports Mac OS X, and have native apps for iOS devices. I’m not sure if Messenger is available for Android, but Skype surely is.
As of their respective latest versions, both Messenger and Skype supports connecting with Facebook, allowing you to chat with your Facebook friends. Both of them supports video calling, however Skype also supports voice calling and calling phones. Skype also now supports signing in with a Microsoft account (this may be the reason for why Microsoft is shutting down Messenger), allowing you to chat with your Messenger friends with Skype. However, Messenger will alert you if there are any new Emails in your Microsoft account inbox, a feature that Skype lacked.
About screen reader usability for those who are blind: Jaws, the most popular screen reader for the blind people, works with both clients (as of their respective latest versions), however for Skype a special script is needed in order to make Jaws work better with Skype. In conclusion, as you can see, both software have very similar features. Since Skype’s interface is similar to that of Windows Live Messenger (in compact view), it shouldn’t take too long to get use to Skype and how it works. I don’t think you absolutely need a Skype account, but having one gives you extra benefits.
Hope this helps you with the migration from Messenger to Skype!
Update: From my latest experience, Skype account is an absolute must, since when I tried to sign into Skype with, say a Facebook account that did not link to my Skkype, I get an option asking whether I already have one. But, the good thing is, you can sign up for a new Skype account right from the application interface.