Up until now, the WhatsApp app on Windows was based on the Electron framework, which essentially leverages web technologies to build desktop apps. While that resulted in lesser development effort because you wouldn't need to rebuild you web app from scratch to cater to desktop, it also sometimes resulted in relatively poor performance and consistency issues. To combat this problem, WhatsApp has been working on a new Windows app based on Universal Windows Platform (UWP) for quite some time. Now, the app has graduated from its beta state and is generally available.
WhatsApp quietly announced the news in a support article where it highlighted that the WhatsApp UWP app for Windows is now live. Although the company doesn't specifically say that it leverages UWP, it does refer to "native" technologies being used to build the redesigned app. According to the firm, here are the advantages that this switching of frameworks will bring:
- Increased reliability and speed
- Designed and optimized for your desktop operating system
- Continue to receive notifications and messages even when your phone is offline
While the first two bullet points should be a given considering the migration to native Windows technologies, the third point also confirms that WhatsApp on Windows can now function as a standalone app where you don't need to be connected to your phone all the time. This capability has been present for some other platforms already.
During its beta phase, WhatsApp had been introducing new capabilities to its app rather quickly. These included message reactions, better chat filters, enhancements to voice notes, and "view once" content.
The new WhatsApp for Windows can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store here. WhatsApp has stated that a native macOS app is in development too and those interested can sign up for the beta here.