Microsoft is currently developing a new feature in Windows 11 that might make managing video chats much easier. On the new operating system, the company is adding a video mute/unmute software toggle directly on the taskbar, allowing users to easily turn the microphone on or off during a video call.
The feature will be confined — at least initially — to Windows Insiders, a Microsoft program that allows users to test new features before they are released to the general public. It’s included in Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22494, and it’s currently accessible.
The microphone mute toggle will display in the taskbar on the bottom right corner of the screen next to the wireless and volume switches as soon as a video conversation is joined.
The microphone mute toggle appears to be limited to Microsoft’s Teams collaboration tool at first. Competing video-calling and collaboration services that wish to give Windows users access to the quick microphone toggle in the taskbar will need to support the required code. Microsoft hopes to extend the feature to software other than Teams in the future.
The feature also has a privacy component that will benefit those concerned about their privacy, especially as more office workers work from home or convert to a hybrid work paradigm that has redefined the modern office. Along with the ability to mute or unmute the microphone, users will be able to quickly identify which apps are utilizing the microphone and view their call status, according to the company. This is similar to how some smartphone platforms, such as Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, have built-in camera and microphone statuses for increased privacy and security.
For those who prefer not to use a mouse — or their fingertips on a touchscreen-enabled PC — to reach the microphone mute toggle, the new Insider Preview also includes a keyboard shortcut to control their mics. The microphone can also be toggled by pressing Win + Alt + K.
Users of Windows 11 on a consumer desktop or laptop will most likely benefit from the feature. Most commercial or business-class PCs already have a microphone mute switch built into one of the keyboard’s Function row buttons. Enterprise-class laptops and desktops, on the other hand, have a more muted design that may not appeal to all users, and they may be too pricey for small organizations’ budgets.