Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it was releasing a Windows 11 update that includes its chat function for talking to friends and family about Microsoft Teams. People who are already testing Windows 11 through the Windows Insider Program can try the chat software before Windows 11 is generally available to everyone later this year.
Adding the component to Windows could lead to greater adoption from teams that grew in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic. As more people start using Teams, the software could become a more valuable part of the office suite that currently makes up most of Microsoft’s business.
Users can access the chat feature by typing the Win-C keyboard shortcut (formerly the keyboard shortcut to access the Cortana virtual assistant) from any screen in Windows 11, Brandon LeBlanc, a senior program manager at Microsoft, wrote in a Blog post. An icon is also available in the system tray. Once the chat window is open, it is possible to open the full-fledged Microsoft Teams app, which has been redesigned for Windows 11.
Initially, users will only be available to participate in one-on-one and group chats. Support for voice and video calling and other features will come later, LeBlanc wrote, and so far chat has only been localized for English-language devices and configured for the US. It is only being introduced to a limited number of insiders so far.
Not everyone needs to be on Teams to exchange messages with people using chat in Windows 11. When someone using chat sends a message to someone who isn’t on Teams, the recipient will receive the message in an email or text message. and Microsoft will offer an option to join teams, LeBlanc wrote. And it is possible to synchronize Skype and Outlook contacts.
Microsoft added pre-installed Skype apps to Windows 10 in 2015, and last year after the pandemic hit, the company tried to make it easy for people to make Skype calls from Windows with a Meet Now feature. With Windows 11, the focus is instead on Teams, which had 145 million daily active users as of April.
If more people start using Teams as chat as a result of the inclusion in Windows 11, it could pose new challenges for competitors including Slack and Zoom.
“Today Microsoft announced that it would bundle teams with Windows and Office,” said Slack on the day Microsoft announced Windows 11. “Our reaction is simple: choice is better than lock-in, open is better than closed. And fair competition is best of all. Unfortunately, Microsoft has never seen it that way.”
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