Microsoft is testing a new Windows 11 feature that could make handling video calls a lot easier. The company is adding a video mute/unmute software toggle directly in the taskbar on the new operating system that would allow users to turn the microphone on or off during a video call with ease.
The feature will be limited — at least initially — to Windows fans who are part of Microsoft’s Windows Insiders program for testing features before they are deployed to everyone. It is now available as part of the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22494, according to TechRadar.
“We are beginning to roll this experience out to a subset of Windows Insiders with Microsoft Teams for work or school installed and ramp it up over time,” Microsoft said of the feature. “This means not everyone will see this right away with their Teams calls.”
As soon as a video call is joined, the microphone mute toggle will appear in the taskbar on the bottom right corner of the screen next to the wireless and volume switches.
It appears that the microphone mute toggle will initially only work with Microsoft’s Teams collaboration app. Developers of rival video-calling and collaboration services that want to give Windows users access to the quick microphone toggle in the taskbar will have to support the necessary code. Microsoft is hoping to expand the feature in the future to software outside of Teams.
The feature also has a privacy component that will help the privacy conscious, especially as more office workers are either working remotely from home or switching to a hybrid work model that has redefined the modern office. The company stated that along with the ability to mute or unmute the microphone, users will also be able to quickly identify which apps are accessing the microphone and users will be able to see their call status. This is not unlike some of the camera and microphone statuses that are built into mobile platforms like Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS for added privacy and security.
And for those who prefer not to use a mouse — or their fingertips on a touchscreen-enabled PC — to access the microphone mute toggle, the latest Insider Preview also allows Windows 11 to control their microphones with a keyboard shortcut. Pressing the Win + Alt + K will also toggle the microphone.
The feature likely will be more useful to Windows 11 users working from a consumer desktop or laptop. Most enterprise or business-class PCs already come with a microphone mute toggle that’s built into one of the Function row keys on the keyboard. However, enterprise-class laptops and desktops come with more muted styling that may not appeal to all users, and they may be too expensive for the budgets of smaller businesses.