Skype, QQ is good alternative
Even before MS bought it, it was getting broken.
It's been unusable on many Win7 machines (recent ones).
Since June MS started killing Skype log on of older Windows Clients.
What alternatives to Skype? Loads but some are too complicated for Consumers (Teamviewer) and others creepy (Google & Facebook). Others are poor
QQ is better functionality than Skype, and I worry less about Chinese than Google/Facebook/Microsoft/NSA spying on my messages.
Only gripe is that "Search" only searches your EXISTING contacts. You click on an Icon with a Cluedo Head and + to add a Contact, then click on new form to "find people you might already know". Also nickname search failed. But QQ ID number worked. The Image Caphta thingy on International Sign up page doesn't work, but using English on the Chinese site Signup page (which is presumably why the blog post has two URLS / Domains) does work.
BBC had this MSN news too
Probably redirects to bbc.com outside UK.
I still have IRC but that's very limited. I used MSN and ICQ a million years ago before using Teamviewer and Skype. QQ seems fine.*
(* Can I have my free stuffed Penguin now?)