Available for iOS and Android for the longest time, Facebook Messenger has finally been released for Windows Phone 8, and I am glad.

Search the Windows Phone store for 'Facebook Messenger' or you can send it to your Windows Phone device from here: Facebook Messenger in the Windows Phone Store

A couple years ago I switched from Android to Windows Phone. The move proved to be an excellent step for me. The Windows Phone UI is just less confusing and historically more stable. Others love their Android experience and that's fine. Ultimately, the experience must match the individual and the personality.

When I was using Android as a mobile OS, I also used the Chrome browser, primarily because, at the time, Internet Explorer was too far behind in functionality and compatibility. With the Android and Chrome combo one of the things I truly enjoyed was being able to utilize Google Voice to send and receive text messages from my tablet, smartphone, and desktop. After switching to Windows Phone and Windows 8 (and, then 8.1), that was one feature I really missed and I kept hoping that Microsoft would turn Skype (or some new technology) into a valuable replacement for Google Voice. It has yet to happen.

In the interim, to provide a common texting experience across my Windows-oriented devices I eventually settled on Viber. Viber utilizes your Internet connection to send and receive text messages. It also provides Skype-type voice features, but I really didn't need that functionality. One of the drawbacks with Viber is that you can only communicate with others who also are Viber members. So, I had to suggest to anyone with which I wanted to communicate to sign-up for an account and load the app. Fortunately, Viber is a cross-platform solution, providing apps and services to Windows Phone, iOS, and Android, but still, the member requirement is limiting. In addition, I've heard from a few that Viber may be suspect

OK, another piece of the backstory: I'm a Verizon customer. Verizon, for me, provides the best service and network in my area, however, texting is somewhat troublesome and they really can't explain it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. So, a solution like Viber gave me a backup should Verizon's texting capabilities decide to flunk out on me at the worst times.

After installing Facebook Messenger last night, I realized quickly just how monumental this release is for Windows Phone and Windows 8 users. By installing Facebook Messenger on my Windows Phone, and then locating a comparable Windows 8 app on my desktop and Surface, I'm now back to the same functionality I loved with the Android/Google Voice combo.

For Windows 8, I chose IM+ Pro. IM+ Pro supports a long list of Instant Messaging services, but I'm using it just for Facebook Messenger. There's a Windows Phone app, too, but I'll stick with Facebook Messenger there. A wonderful aspect of IM+ Pro is that you can configure it to send emails to yourself should a message come through while you are offline. You can then reply to the email message and it delivers to the recipient just as if you had texted it.

Yes, Facebook Messenger also requires that users have an actual Facebook account, but who doesn't have one? And, because the messages are served by Facebook, your thread records are archived online.

The best part is that I don't have to rely on Verizon's pitiful SMS network, my messages flow back and forth through my prescribed data plan.