The rumors were true. Not so long after introducing a Skype "Meet Now" button for Windows 10, Microsoft is replacing it with a Teams Chat button on the taskbar in Windows 11.
Integrating Teams Chat on the taskbar is meant to help users more quickly start a chat or video call. It's also a way to expose more Microsoft business users to the fact that Microsoft has consumer features for Teams, too.
Microsoft officials are saying for users on Windows 10, Meet Now using Skype will continue to be available (for as long as Windows 10 is supported, meaning at least until 2025, I would assume, though Microsoft didn't provide an actual date). And officials are emphasizing just because those Teams and Skype chat buttons are on the taskbar does not mean users still can't opt for a different, non-Microsoft chat/video offering like Zoom.
The Microsoft Teams app is not preinstalled on Windows 11. Anyone who wants the full Teams app capabilities for work or personal use will still need to download the app from the Microsoft Store, officials said. (Yes, the Teams app will finally be in the new Microsoft Store, officials said today.)
As officials announced recently, from the Chat from Microsoft Teams app, customers will be able send a message to anyone in their contact list, even if that person doesn't have a Microsoft Teams account. Recipients can reply via 2-way SMS or download and install the Microsoft Teams app on any device.
I have to admit I'm surprised but not mad Microsoft didn't make at least the free version of Microsoft Teams a preload on Windows 11, given Microsoft's positioning of Windows 11 as the best platform for hybrid home/work computing.
Windows 11 will go to Insider testers next week and will start rolling out to mainstream users this fall and into early 2022. Windows 11 will be preloaded on select new PCs this holiday season. It will be a free upgrade from Windows 10.