Microsoft announced in January that Windows Live Messenger would be replaced by Skype on March 15, 2013. Many people have been wondering if you can still use Windows Live Messenger after the cut-off date.
The short answer is: No
That is unless you're in mainland China where Windows Live Messenger will still be supported. When March 15, 2013 rolls around, it's unclear how Microsoft will shutter Windows Live Messenger, but they are encouraging users to start using Skype now. You can sign in with your Microsoft account to import your contacts.
Skype is already integrated into Windows 8 and you can connect to your friends when you sign in with your Microsoft account. Skype released a quick help guide to move from Windows Live Messenger to Skype and it's very simple: Sign into Skype with your Microsoft account.
Windows Live Messenger and Skype have co-existed for some time and it appears that Microsoft is now ready to replace the aged program with the more popular chat app. One major reason that Skype is taking over messaging duties from Windows Live Messenger is that there is already a huge user base on mobile devices along with the OS-specific program on Windows and Mac.
It's best to start using Skype now as your primary messenger app if you've been using Windows Live Messenger. On March 15, it's unknown how abrupt the closure of Messenger will be. Microsoft's contact import is seamless and it shouldn't take much time to adjust to Skype if you've never used it before.
If you are really against using Skype, there are a lot of other multi-platform instant messaging apps to choose from, but the ones that support Messenger will not be able to offer that once Microsoft shuts Messenger down.