Windows 11 just became a tempting upgrade for iPhone owners

Phone Link for iOS
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11 users are now getting Phone Link for iOS rolled out to them, so those with an iPhone will be able to hook up their handset to the desktop.

Previously, the feature had been in testing, but with the full arrival on Windows 11 PCs, now everyone gets a look in. Indeed, it’s a global rollout, with Microsoft announcing that Phone Link for iOS is inbound in 39 languages across 85 markets.

Phone Link for the iPhone can be used to get notifications, calls, and messages on your desktop PC – and as we’ve previously reported, this means you can use iMessage on a Windows 11 device.

The slight catch here is that you may not see the feature on your Windows 11 PC just yet. The rollout is happening in phases, so only a limited number of users will be able to get Phone Link for iOS right now – but it won’t be long before everyone is covered (we’ll come back to that momentarily).

For those who have got the feature through, when installing the Phone Link app, you’ll see the option for the iPhone (as well as Android of course, which Phone Link has always worked with). Note that you’ll need to be running iOS 14 or better.

a screenshot of iMessage working with Phone Link app on PC

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: Microsoft is treading carefully here

It seems Microsoft is being pretty cautious around this rollout, with the company admitting that it has purposefully chosen a “conservative approach” to releasing the update in its blog post announcement.

How long will it take for Microsoft to push out Phone Link for iOS exactly? We’re told that the functionality will be deployed for everyone come the middle of May, so the worst-case scenario is that you’ll be waiting three weeks (or that should be the case, anyway).

It should be worth the wait, Microsoft promises us, as the software giant has had some pretty positive feedback from internal testers thus far.

Clearly, though, the Phone Link experience on iOS is far more limited than on Android, with just the basics being piped through to the desktop (not so much Microsoft’s fault as Apple’s, of course). As noted, there is iMessage support which is good to see, but this is barebones too, and you won’t get the full message history for example, or be able to use the entire range of iMessage features.

Still, even the Android experience on Phone Link is restricted in some ways, as some of the coolest features are for Samsung handsets only, which has long been a gripe for many users.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).