❤ iMessage is coming to Windows

No blue or green bubbles… iMessage on Windows brings with it gray bubbles.



People never thought it would happen. People didn’t think it was possible. But in an update to Windows 11, you will be able to send and receive iMessages and manage your notifications through a PC.

This update comes through the Windows Insider program, which offers users prerelease versions of the desktop operating system for beta testing and software development. Microsoft ships updates to Windows annually in the fall, so this feature may arrive for everyone later this year.

iMessage on Windows … with limits

iMessage on Windows is available through the Phone Link app for Windows. Reporting by AppleInsider discovered some limits with the upcoming feature:

  • When you pair it with your phone, you can only see the messages that you’ve sent and received with Phone Link active, not the entire message history.
  • You also won’t be able to send pictures, videos or files.
  • You can only send and receive messages to one person; you can’t participate in group chats.
  • The app makes no distinction between regular text messages and iMessages.

These restrictions are unlikely to change soon; it appears to be a technical limitation of how the feature was implemented. Phone Link with an Android phone is no different.

So how does this work?



Phone Link will guide you through the process of pairing your iPhone.



Microsoft did not seem to get Apple’s blessing to create an iMessage client for Windows. Instead, the company implemented a workaround through Bluetooth pairing.

If your PC has Bluetooth, the Phone Link app on Windows will create a Bluetooth signal that you must connect to from your iPhone. You’ll be inundated with a bunch of permissions you need to accept, but if it all works, your phone will relay notifications and texts to your computer.

This has long been a supported feature through Bluetooth on iOS — it’s how early smartwatches like the Pebble were able to relay incoming notifications, too.

Can you get it right now if you’re on the Windows Insider Program?

If you’re thinking about joining the Windows Insider Program just to get this feature (like I did last year to get tabs in File Explorer), slow down just a minute. According to the Windows Insider blog, it will only be available to “a small percentage of Insiders at first throughout this week, which means not all Insiders will see the preview right away.”

The company said it plans to ramp up the release of this build “to more Insiders over time and based on feedback we receive.” Microsoft may ship it as part of the 2023 feature update to everyone running Windows 11 later this fall.

Other Apple services coming to Windows 11



Apple Music for Windows replaces the aging iTunes.



If you’re rocking the iPhone + Windows combo, you’re not left cold by the two tech giants. Instead, you get first-class support for many other Apple services on your PC.

Microsoft is rolling out a new version of its Phone Link app for Windows, and it finally brings support for iPhone. Most notably, this includes support for iMessage on Windows for the first time… but there are some limitations on how exactly this works.

Microsoft somehow brings iMessage to Windows, will it last?

As reported by The Verge, the Phone Link app for Windows is meant to mirror your phone on your PC for things like notifications, phone calls, and messages. The app has historically only supported Android devices, but that’s changing today with the addition of iPhone support.

The new version of Phone Link for Windows uses Bluetooth to link a user’s iPhone to their Windows PC. It then “passes commands and messages” to the Messages app on that paired iPhone. This means you can send and receive all iPhone messages — text messages and iMessages — through the Phone Link app on your PC.

“We send the messages back and forth via Bluetooth, Apple I think in turn sends those as iMessage once it gets onto their system,” Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s head of consumer marketing, explained to The Verge.

This is clearly a workaround since Apple doesn’t natively support Messages via any platforms other than its own. With that in mind, there are a couple of limitations.

For instance, you can’t see the full message history in conversations via the Phone Link app. Instead, you’ll only see messages that “have been sent or received using Phone Link.” Microsoft also isn’t able to differentiate between text messages and iMessages, so there are no blue or green bubbles.

The biggest limitation, however, is that you won’t be able to send pictures in messages nor will you be able to participate in group messages.

On the official Windows blog, Microsoft explains:

After choosing iPhone, the guided installation will kick off to pair your iPhone. You will be directed to follow a set of steps that will guide you to pair your iPhone and PC over Bluetooth. This will initiate after you scan a QR code shown on your screen, and then move on to the confirmation steps that helps us confirm the phone and PC are in range.

During this step, you will be asked to confirm the code in Phone Link matches the code shown on your iPhone. Once you complete pairing, you’ll be asked to grant a set of permissions that allow us to get all your favorite content sync’d over to Phone Link.

iPhone integration into the Phone Link app is available starting today for a “small percentage” of Windows Insiders enrolled in the Dev, Beta, and Release Preview channels. It will roll out to more users over time.

Despite these limitations, however, Microsoft believes this is a worthwhile feature addition for Phone Link users. The app didn’t support iPhone in any capacity before, so this at least brings basic functionality. There’s the possibility more features could be added in the future.

What’s interesting to me is whether this is an Apple-sanctioned approach. It certainly doesn’t seem like it is. There’s a possibility Apple could roll out a change to iOS that completely breaks this Bluetooth-based workaround that Microsoft is using.