WhatsApp shuts down original desktop app

Popular online chat platform WhatsApp has shut down its first standalone desktop app, meaning users now have to use the recently-launched native apps or a browser to use WhatsApp on a computer.

The now-shuttered platform-agnostic WhatsApp Desktop app was first launched in May 2016.

Using the Electron framework, the developers could carry over the WhatsApp Web codebase and ensure compatibility with Windows and MacOS.

Electron is built on open-source Chromium and the cross-platform JavaScript environment Node JS, allowing developers to use web technologies for dedicated apps.

WhatsApp started notifying users about the Electron app’s impending shutdown about four weeks ago when it added a countdown timer to the app’s main screen.

Opening the Electron-based app will now present users with an “App expired” message and offer a link to their applicable native app, as shown below.

In the weeks leading up to the shuttering of the Electron app, WhatsApp also prompted users to download an update promising a slew of improvements.

Clicking the update link actually led to the native Windows or MacOS app being installed on the user’s system.

WhatsApp first released a native app for Windows in August 2022, while the MacOS version followed in January 2023.

The native apps come with several advantages over the Electron-based version.

These include better performance and resource efficiency, and the ability to get notifications and messages when the user’s phone is offline.

Security researchers at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference also found severe vulnerabilities in the Electron framework.

In addition to the now-discontinued WhatsApp app, Electron is used in over 750 desktop apps — including Discord, Slack, Spotify, and YouTube Music.

Microsoft Teams also recently switched away from using Electron.

While the apps affected by the vulnerabilities have since received patches that fixed their respective problems, one of the researchers — Aaditya Purani — recommended that users opt for the browser-based apps anyway.

“Regular users should know that the Electron apps are not the same as their day-to-day browsers,” said Purani.

“If you are more paranoid, I recommend using the website itself because then you have the protection which Chromium has, which is much larger than Electron.”


Now read: These cheap Android phones could be stealing South African WhatsApp accounts

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WhatsApp shuts down original desktop app