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WhatsApp is aiming to reap on the popularity of its mobile apps with similar offering for desktop users and thus challenging Skype.

Finally, popular messaging service WhatsApp has come up with new desktop client for Windows and Mac. The app already is free to use having earlier dropped the 99 cent annual subscription fee. And now with desktops clients for both the Windows and Apple platform(Download), the company seems poised to become the default messaging service for all.

WhatsApp had also launched its web app only last year while more recently, it introduced end-to-end encryption for enhanced security and privacy of its users. The Facebook owned company already enjoys a sizeable presence in the mobile domain where its user base stands at well over a billion. Now with desktop apps for Microsoft and Apple platforms too in place, the company can now boast of a presence across all computing device segments that includes, mobiles, tablets or PCs running either Android, Windows, iOS or Mac.

WhatsApp also said the new desktop apps are quite similar in looks and feel with their mobile counterparts. We can also consider it as extension of WhatsApp Web. They only relief would be one less tab in the browser. Messages too are synced across all devices and operating systems which mean users need not be tied to any particular device to continue with the conversations. Instead, those can be pursued via any device. The new app is compatible with devices running either Windows 8+ and Mac OS 10.9 and above.

However, users are still required to have their mobile devices switched on and connected online in order for the desktop app to work. That’s because the desktop app is designed to simply mirror the conversations from the mobile version for which users are required to scan a QR code on the desktop screen with their mobile devices to get going. Users have to follow the same procedure for conversing using the web version, something that WhatsApp stated has been done for security reasons.

Also, while the desktop app is being termed as ‘nearly’ identical to the web versions, a native app can still be considered way ahead of its web counterpart on account of the deeper integration that the former enjoys over the latter. What that means is that the desktop app has better notification support along with keyboard shortcuts for greater convenience, something that’s missing with the web version.

For instance, there are keyboard combinations such as Ctrl + Shift + M that mutes a conversation while Ctrl + Shift + U can invoke changes in the read status of a message. The above is only relevant for Mac though such combinations are also available on Windows.

WhatsApp had initially started with a mobile app for Android and iOS. The app quickly made it to the top as the messaging service of choice for the masses, especially in the countries of India, Brazil and South Africa. Over time, the app also evolved from not only being a medium for casual conversation but began to serve a new class of user – businesses that started using WhatsApp for work related conversations as well.

With the desktop apps, users also get to do all that the corresponding mobile versions are capable of. That includes the ability to send messages, pictures, and documents, or recording voice messages. Overall, users can look forward to a familiar surrounding with the desktop clients and can get started almost immediately.

However, while all of the above might come across as a positive development for WhatsApp loyalists, there are enough reasons for the others in the fray to be worried about. That includes the likes of WeChat, Skype and such. In fact, WhatsApp is also believed to be working towards introducing video chat support as well. And none perhaps will have to face the brunt of such a move than Skype. Microsoft, on its part, has already stated they are working to introduce Skype UWP app soon, which means it’s a keen battle WhatsApp vs. Skype battle shaping up.

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