iMessage is coming to Windows … kind of


iMessage and notifications in Phone Link on Windows 11
No blue or green bubbles… iMessage on Windows brings with it gray bubbles.
Screenshot: Windows Insider Blog

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?

Pairing an iPhone to Windows in Phone Link
Phone Link will guide you through the process of pairing your iPhone.
Screenshot: Windows Insider Blog

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 and Apple TV apps launch for Windows 11
Apple Music for Windows replaces the aging iTunes.
Screenshot: Apple/Microsoft

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.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.