I use Windows Live Messenger only because I have to. But with the release of the Skype 5.11 Beta this week, I may no longer have to: This new Skype version now integrates with the Messenger network, and provides all of the features I need from Windows Live Messenger. Fantastic.

In a post to the Skype blog, Raul Liive notes that the new Beta adds the following features:

Sharing Instant Messages with friends with Messenger. You can now sign in with your Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID), and see presence as well as send and receive IM messages from your friends who are using Messenger, Xbox, Hotmail or Outlook.com.

Improved Facebook integration. You can now sign in directly with your Facebook account log in, without needing to first create a Skype account.

Support for 6 new languages. There are new localized versions of Skype in Thai, Croatian, Slovenian, Serbian, Catalan and Slovak, bringing the total languages Skype supports to 38.

The big deal on that first one is that you can sign in to the Skype client with your Messenger account (instead of your Skype account) and then link your Skype account to your Messenger account. This way, you can see all your Skype and Messenger contacts side by side, and use Skype—instead of WLM—to chat, send files, and more.

It’s not perfect—if you have the same person in both contact lists, they’ll show up twice—but it’s still much nicer than Windows Live Messenger.

Download the Skype 5.11 Beta and check it out for yourself.