Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger application will be discontinued Oct. 31, after 15 years. The service remains in use only in China -- where the final switch-off will take place. It was discontinued in most other markets in 2013, after the Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) purchased Skype, aiming to switch users over to that platform.

A number of Chinese Windows Live users received emails from Microsoft Thursday informing them of the planned closure, BBC News reported. The emails told users they would get free Skype credit when they migrated to the new service.

Launched in 1999, the service was designed to compete with AOL Inc.’s (NYSE:AOL) AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM, application. Microsoft’s app had as many as 300 million users as recently as 2010, according to a company blog post.

When the service was down to about 100 million users in 2012, Microsoft announced it would merge its remnants with Skype, which boasted an active user base of more than 600 million.

Tech Times reported the move to kill MSN Messenger in China was prompted by the growing popularity of the rival chat service QQ run by the indigenous Tencent Holdings Ltd. (HKG:0700).

BBC technology reporter Dave Lee said the impact of the service was significant. It “touched the lives of millions of teenagers who, in an age before real social networking, were just getting accustomed to what it was like to live on the Internet.”

During the program’s lifetime, Microsoft added more features to the service, including custom emoticons, games between players, and a so-called nudge function that would shake a friend’s chat window to grab his or her attention, as the Independent wrote.