While I don’t usually applaud companies for removing features from their products, in this case it would be a good move.
Let’s be honest: Windows 11 has a bloat problem, with Microsoft filling it with apps and services that most people don’t use, but can’t be easily removed from the device the operating system is running on.
Teams is one of those. While Microsoft Teams is a video conferencing app that’s used by businesses for communication between team members (hence the name), Microsoft also wanted to inflict it on regular users of Windows 11 as well, so built it into the operating system as the Chat app.
However, despite Microsoft bundling in Teams via the Chat app, it never properly took off. Most people use the likes of Facebook and WhatsApp for instant messaging these days. That wouldn’t be much of an issue, but not only is Chat pre-installed in Windows 11, you can’t uninstall it. Add it to the list of other apps you don’t want to use but are installed anyway, and Windows 11 can start feeling rather bloated.
Right move, wrong reasons
However, as Windows Latest reports, it looks like Microsoft may be considering adding the ability to remove Chat in an upcoming version of Windows 11, with references to “RemoveChat” in early Windows 11 preview builds.
When enabled, this seems to allow users to completely remove Chat from their system, rather than simply hiding it.
This would be a good move for people who want to keep their PCs organized and tidy, without any unused apps clogging things up.
However, it doesn’t seem like Microsoft is doing this voluntarily. As Windows Latest points out, the EU is keeping a close eye on Microsoft and how it combines its products like Office and Teams with Windows 11, which could give those products an unfair advantage over rivals.
Adding an option to fully remove Chat could avoid those accusations, while also allowing Microsoft to still preinstall it.
Interestingly, the RemoveChat option appears to be linked to geographical data, which suggests this might only be available to users in certain regions – such as the European Union.
If that’s the case, then it looks like Microsoft is determined to do the absolute minimum so that it can avoid any fines from the EU, but still trying to make Chat popular with users.
This is frustrating, as while Windows 11 is a decent enough operating system, Microsoft continues to add apps and services, or adverts for those apps and services, to the OS, regardless of whether users want them or not.
By doing this, and not allowing users to remove the apps or adverts, many people – myself included – have increasingly felt like Microsoft has been pushing its luck, and been a bit too aggressive when trying to get us to use its products.
So, while I certainly would welcome this move, I can’t say I’m too thrilled about Microsoft’s seeming reluctance to give its customers more freedom at the expense of its own commercial ambitions.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.