In a recent announcement, Microsoft revealed its plan to remove the built-in Microsoft Teams client from Windows 11. The integration of Teams into the operating system was first announced almost two years ago, but it will now be replaced by the more versatile free version of Microsoft Teams, which is also available as a standalone app on the Microsoft Store. This change was unveiled in a new Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23481 released this week.
This transition aims to provide users with a more flexible experience while utilizing the popular communication platform. Brandon LeBlanc, senior program manager at Microsoft, explained the shift in a recent blog post, stating, “Starting with this build, Chat is now Microsoft Teams – Free. Microsoft Teams – Free is pinned by default to the taskbar and can be unpinned like other apps on the taskbar.”
Currently, the Chat app is in-built into the Windows 11 operating system, appearing as a pinned icon on the taskbar. Users had to navigate through Settings to remove it. The Chat feature primarily catered to consumers, offering a means to connect with friends and family using Microsoft Teams. However, it was limited in functionality for business users, rendering it ineffective for the majority of Microsoft Teams’ user base who rely on the work version of the application. This created confusion and the potential for users to have multiple versions of Teams installed for different purposes.
This decision to remove the built-in Teams client follows closely after Microsoft’s announcement to discontinue support for Cortana on Windows 11 later this year. With the new financial year approaching, Microsoft appears to be redirecting its focus toward other projects within Windows, including the development of the AI-powered Windows Copilot tool.
Moreover, the changes made to Teams in Windows 11 coincide with Microsoft’s recent decision to stop bundling Teams with Office. This move, aimed at appeasing European Union regulators and avoiding a potential antitrust probe, follows a complaint filed by rival company Slack in 2020 regarding Microsoft’s bundling practices.
As Microsoft continues to evolve its offerings and respond to user needs, the removal of the built-in Teams client marks a significant shift in the Windows 11 ecosystem. With the transition to the free version of Microsoft Teams, users can expect a more customizable experience that aligns with their personal and professional communication requirements.