Microsoft is bringing access to iMessage on Windows through its Phone Link app. A preview of the updated app will be available for Windows Insiders today. The Phone Link app allows iPhone users to connect their devices to a Windows laptop or PC and, with the update, will let iPhone users send and receive messages via iMessage, make and receive calls, and see their phone’s notifications inside Windows 11.
Microsoft is using Bluetooth to link Windows devices to iPhones, passing commands and messages to users’ Messages (iMessage) app. That means you’ll be able to message contacts that also have iPhones straight from your PC, but there are some limits. You won’t be able to send pictures in messages or participate in group messages. As you can see in the screenshot of the Phone Link app at the top of the story, PC users will be shown their iMessages conversations in a simplified form.
“We send the messages back and forth via Bluetooth, Apple I think in turn sends those as iMessage once it gets onto their system,” explains Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s head of consumer marketing, in an interview with The Verge.
You also won’t see the full message history in conversations, as only messages that have been sent or received using Phone Link will be displayed. Microsoft isn’t using blue or green bubbles in Phone Link either, as the company isn’t able to differentiate between a standard text message and one sent via iMessage.
The Phone Link integration for iOS is basic compared to what’s available for Android, but Microsoft has never supported messaging or calls for iPhone users before, so this is a step in the right direction. As Phone Link is bundled with Windows 11, it’s also native compared to alternative PC link apps we’ve seen from Intel, Dell, and others.
“It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” says Mehdi. “The experience with Android is quite good, and we felt like we needed to get something out [for iPhone].”
While there won’t be any photos integration in Phone Link, Microsoft already offers iCloud Photos integration right inside the Windows 11 Photos app. It’s easy to imagine this might appear in Phone Link at some point in the future, too. This new Phone Link support arrives alongside a big new Windows 11 update that includes AI-powered Bing on the taskbar, a screen recording feature, better touch optimizations, and more.
If you’re interested in testing this new Phone Link support for iOS, it will be available for Windows Insiders in the Dev, Beta, and Release Preview channels, but Microsoft is kicking off testing with a “small percentage” of testers this week. “We will increase the availability of the preview to more Insiders over time and based on feedback we receive with this first set of Insiders,” says Microsoft’s Windows team in a blog post.