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Windows 11 Insider preview adds Microsoft Teams chat feature

The latest insider build for the upcoming new version of Windows lets you chat with other people even if they don’t have Teams.

Microsoft has delivered another feature promised for Windows 11, namely chatting via its Teams app. The latest build for the Windows 11 Insider preview reveals a Taskbar icon through which you can use Microsoft Teams to chat with other people. But the selling point here is that the person on the other end doesn’t need Teams to chat with you. When texting a non-Teams user, your chat will run through SMS.

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The integration with Teams marks a transition for Microsoft. In the past, the company touted Skype as its go-to app for chatting and VoIP calling. But as Zoom and other virtual meeting apps have taken the spotlight in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the shift to remote working, Microsoft has been touting Teams not just for business users but increasingly for home users.

For this initial version, the Teams chat feature supports only text chatting with individuals and groups. Audio and video calling, meetings, screen sharing and other capabilities will roll out over the coming weeks, Microsoft said in a blog post announcing the new Teams chat.

You can flavor your texts with special formatting, emoji, animated GIFs and file attachments. But since SMS is limited, the other person will need the Teams app to view the formatting, GIFs and attachments. If the chat is run through SMS, the person on the other end will receive a link to download the Teams app. Teams is freely available for Windows, macOS, iOS/iPadOS, Android, Linux and the web.

To set up the Teams feature, make sure you’re running the Insider preview for Windows 11 and that you’ve opted for the Dev channel to get the latest updates. Then go to Settings and Windows Update. Allow the latest build to install and reboot. After signing back in, you should see a new icon on the Taskbar that says Chat when you hover over it. Click that icon and you’re prompted to download Teams. Click the Set up button.

At the next window, click Get started. Choose the Microsoft account you wish to use with Teams and enter your password. A Teams window pops up for you to confirm your name and opt to sync your Skype and Outlook contacts to find people you know on Teams. Click the Let’s go button.

The Teams app opens where you can invite people, start a chat, start a group, begin a meeting, check your activity and view your calendar.

The next time you want to chat with someone, just click the Teams Taskbar icon or press Win+C and choose Chat. You can now chat with one or more people by entering their name, email address or phone number.

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