Microsoft Removes Built-in Teams Integration from Windows 11, Emphasizes Standalone Free App

Microsoft has decided to remove the built-in Microsoft Teams client from Windows 11, shifting its focus to the standalone free version of Teams available as a separate app for Windows 10

Microsoft has decided to remove the built-in Microsoft Teams client from Windows 11, shifting its focus to the standalone free version of Teams available as a separate app for Windows 10. The integration, originally named Chat, was announced nearly two years ago but will now be replaced by the more versatile free version of Microsoft Teams. The change was introduced in a recent Windows 11 test build.

Brandon LeBlanc, senior program manager at Microsoft, explained in a blog post that with the latest build, Chat is now Microsoft Teams – Free. The app will be pinned to the taskbar by default and can be unpinned like other apps. When asked about the reason for removing Chat, Microsoft did not provide a response at the time of publication.

The original Teams integration in Windows 11, known as Chat, was deeply embedded in the operating system. It was enabled by default and could only be removed by navigating through the Settings menu. Chat allowed consumers to use Microsoft Teams for personal communication, but it was limited in functionality and not suitable for most users who rely on the work version of Teams. This led to potential confusion for Windows 11 users who had both the built-in Chat and the standalone Teams app installed for different purposes.

Microsoft had been consistently adding new features to Chat within Windows 11, including enhanced video calling capabilities in October and Discord-like communities and an AI art tool more recently. The built-in Chat functionality was based on the Microsoft Teams 2.0 client, which served as the foundation for the business version of Teams currently being rolled out.

The decision to remove the built-in Teams client from Windows 11 comes shortly after Microsoft’s announcement to discontinue support for Cortana on the new operating system. As Microsoft enters a new financial year, the company appears to be redirecting its efforts toward other projects for Windows, such as the AI-powered Windows Copilot tool.

Windows chief Panos Panay previously highlighted the significance of AI for Windows, suggesting that it would revolutionize user experiences on the platform. AI is expected to play a significant role in the upcoming major version of Windows as well.

These changes to Teams integration follow Microsoft’s reported decision to stop bundling Teams with Office. In April, it was revealed that Microsoft would no longer require Office customers to install Teams on their devices, a move aimed at addressing concerns raised by EU regulators. Microsoft is seeking to avoid a formal antitrust investigation by the European Commission after receiving a complaint from rival Slack in 2020 regarding the bundling of Teams.

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