In early January, Microsoft announced that starting from March 15, users would no longer be able to sign into the aging, but still popular Messenger service, because Skype would be replacing it. And, to give users an incentive to embrace its replacement, Microsoft is giving away a "free welcome gift".
This gift can be redeemed by Messenger users who sign into Skype with their Microsoft account details and promises "calls to landlines and mobiles around the world, group video calling, group screen sharing (and more) absolutely free for a month". Or at least that's what the text says.
The fine-print, however, might dampen any enthusiasm you have for the offer. After the free one-month period ends, Microsoft automatically sets up a recurring payment system which will charge users $9.99 per month, unless they manually cancel the trial within the first 27 days.
The offer is "available while supplies last" and, in order to qualify, users "must provide valid payment details". Of course, there are other details in the fine-print such as the implementation of a "fair use policy", worldwide calls in just 40 countries for landlines and an abysmal seven countries for cell phone calls, etc.
Microsoft also states that "April 8th is the first day that you may be required to upgrade to Skype". The use of the word "may" is not particularly reassuring, giving the impression that Messenger may live longer than expected.