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Windows 11 responds to EU concerns, to allow removal of Microsoft Teams Chat from taskbar

In a future update of Windows 11, Microsoft may allow you to disable “Chat,” a Microsoft Teams for consumer feature. This change may have been motivated by a desire to head off potential antitrust scrutiny from European Union authorities. The unannounced update has been tucked away in Windows 11 preview builds since May and could soon make its way into production.

The new Windows 11 operating system includes a Chat app for communicating with loved ones through Microsoft Teams. At the October 2021 Windows 11 event, chat was announced with much fanfare. This feature is built right into the Windows 11 Shell/taskbar and provides a simple interface, making it easy for anyone to keep in touch with their loved ones when they’re not at work.

Compared to Meta products like WhatsApp and Facebook, Teams doesn’t fare well in the consumer market. Microsoft’s attempt to stay current with consumers included Chat, which flopped in the consumer market.

Rather than changing Teams’ name,cTo better facilitate communication, Microsoft updated and expanded the Teams app. Additionally, the company repositioned the preexisting Microsoft Teams app to better appeal to users searching for alternative means of communication by adding a “Chat” button to the Windows 11 taskbar.

Microsoft Teams Chat in Windows 11
This screenshot of Microsoft Teams Chat in Windows 11 was kindly provided by TheWindowsFan.com.

The above image demonstrates how the Chat app, which requires the download and installation of Microsoft Teams from the Store, is integrated into the Windows 11 Shell and taskbar. It allows you to organize and hold video and audio conferences with your loved ones at any time and any place.

RemoveChat in Windows 11
Source: TheWindowsFan.com for the image.

It looks like Microsoft is experimenting with a way to disable or remove Chat from Windows 10. Hidden references to “RemoveChat” were discovered in the May release preview builds of Windows 11. When turned on, Windows 11 will no longer display or reference the Chat application or feature.

Windows 11 Teams Chat toggle
The option to disable Chat can be found in all Windows 11 editions as a toggle.

Microsoft already makes it easy for users to unpin the Chat shortcut from the taskbar, but ‘RemoveChat’ appears to take this even further.

This may soon be implemented in the production version as a precaution against antitrust scrutiny from European Union regulators.

RemoveChat in Windows 11
The Windows Fan Club provided the image.

Our hypothesis that Microsoft might disable the feature by default or give users the option to disable it in certain regions (Europe?) is borne out by the fact that “RemoveChat” is associated with a geographical API.

In addition to supporting our hypothesis, a prior Business Times report that Microsoft is considering decoupling Teams from Office in order to avoid an EU investigation.

For those who are unaware, Microsoft Teams’ competitors have voiced concerns and protested what they see as Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices, and one such competitor is Slack. Slack claimed that Microsoft’s offering is more advantageous because Teams is bundled with other Microsoft products.

There have been rumors that Microsoft may separate Teams from Microsoft 365 and Office 365 for businesses, and now it appears that Windows 11 will be the first platform to receive this treatment.

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