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Microsoft and WhatsApp may be working together on a new UWP app for Windows 10

WhatsApp for Windows Phone is one of the few apps on Windows 10 Mobile today that continues to receive frequent updates from its developer. Unfortunately, the app itself is one based on Silverlight, which is what apps built for Windows Phone 8.1 used back in 2014. This means the app isn't a Universal Windows Platform app (UWP,) and as such doesn't run across all the different Windows 10 platforms and devices available today.

That means that if Microsoft's rumored Andromeda device ever does happen, the WhatsApp app available right now won't run on it, because the version of Windows 10 that runs on Andromeda doesn't support old apps based on Silverlight. On a device like Andromeda, an app like WhatsApp is a must-have. Luckily, it appears that Microsoft may be working closely with WhatsApp in bringing its Silverlight app to UWP, along with updating its UI with a refreshed interface that features Fluent Design.

Concept art of this work recently popped up on Behance by a designer hired by Microsoft who appears to be working on the project. Unfortunately, the Behance listing was pulled after we approached the designer for comment. While the project on Behance didn't tell us much outside of what the app may look like, it does give us our first hint towards an apparent partnership between Microsoft and WhatsApp. The only context surrounding this work is a paragraph on what the project is about:

WhatsApp is a free cross-platform app owned by Facebook. You can make video calls and send text messages, voice messages, documents, and user locations. I have been supporting the team with porting WhatsApp from Silverlight to UWP. We want them to bring their app to Windows 10 desktop and integrate unique Windows 10 features like Ink and Fluent Design. The project had [a] successful result which led to WhatsApp partnering with Microsoft, and we earned high praise from the WhatsApp team.

Working together?

Based on the project description, it sounds like Microsoft and WhatsApp are working closely together in updating WhatsApp for the Universal Windows Platform, which will enable it to run across different Windows 10 devices universally. Of course, while these concept images don't give us definitive proof that a UWP app of WhatsApp is in the works, it does serve as confirmation that WhatsApp and Microsoft are at least brainstorming such an idea.

Judging by the concept images, a WhatsApp UWP app would combine the functionality of both the Windows Phone app and the Windows 10 desktop app available today. On desktops, the UWP app would simply act as a "relay" application allowing users who use WhatsApp on their iOS or Android device and send and receive WhatsApp content directly on their PC via WhatsApp Web syncing.

The app would also act as a native client for Windows 10 devices that have telephony capabilities, which is why this app is crucial for something like Andromeda and is probably a big part of why Microsoft is talking with WhatsApp Inc. about building a true UWP app of WhatsApp in the first place. We asked Microsoft for comment, and they responded with the following statement: "Microsoft does not comment on rumors and speculation." So, take that as you will.

It would be super awesome if later this year, Microsoft announces a brand new, beautiful WhatsApp app for Windows 10 that works across a wide variety of Windows 10 devices, including Andromeda. Of course, since these are only concepts, even though they were designed under Microsoft it doesn't mean such an app will ever see light of day. But, at least they appear to be talking about it.

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • Take your sweet ass time, MS. By the time they release it, WA will be like Skype. On the other hand, if they were to release it soon, it probably will be a big thing for any and all Windows devices, especially the futuristic tablets n stuff.
  • bring it on MS and Facebook 👏🏾
  • whatsapp ideology goes completely against that of UWP, that is this thing tries to mimic old communications in all the bad ways, no semblance of multi-account/multi-device system to speak of, the "desktop app" is simply teamviewer for a chat app, I abhor this thing with such passion I would gladly finance a movement to kill it
  • Judging by the concept images, a WhatsApp UWP app would combine the functionality of both the Windows Phone app and the Windows 10 desktop app available today. On desktops, the UWP app would simply act as a "relay" application allowing users who use WhatsApp on their iOS or Android device and send and receive WhatsApp content directly on their PC via WhatsApp Web syncing.
    The app would also act as a native client for Windows 10 devices that have telephony capabilities, which is why this app is crucial for something like Andromeda and is probably a big part of why Microsoft is talking with WhatsApp Inc. about building a true UWP app of WhatsApp in the first place
  • It's indeed among very few applications that still works on W10M. Even games like Flick2Shoot and others have stopped online game play options. StickCricket, though outdated, used to work. Now it has stopped opening. FoodPanda is gone, IRCTC has gone, Dominos is gone, McDonalds application is gone..... And ask this due to Nadella..... I wonder if he wanted to kill WP or UWP?
  • "And ask this due to Nadella..... I wonder if he wanted to kill WP or UWP?"
    You can't keep asking this "kill UWP" thing. It's beyond misunderstanding what Windows is becoming. It's just so fundamentally off base of everything they are doing, which is converting all the code-base of Windows OS to UWP and a modern framework. They are literally transforming Windows to UWP-Windows before your eyes. Much of Windows 10 on ARM is built around the concept of UWP, HoloLens/WMR is ALL built around UWP, next-gen Windows (Polaris, Andromeda, Aruba, Oasis) is all UWP-based. Getting out of phones is one thing, but they are not "killing UWP" because there is NO ALTERNATIVE to it. Microsoft is not going to trot out Win32 development as the future of computing in 2019 - a 20-year-old dev platform. I keep hearing this "kill UWP" thing, but no one then suggests what should be the dev platform for Windows for the next decade - that's kind of a fundamental part of the equation. Did nixing phone hurt UWP? Absolutely. Is it the goal of MS to kill UWP? Absolutely not. Don't conflate those two things.
  • I would of loved to see a more open web based platform that will work on any device, but now I support UWP and PWA, the future is going to be awesome.
  • Yeah PWA or any web based platform works great for simple applications like FB, or uber, but it's not for stuff like games or heavy applications like photoshop, or even a media viewer. Eventually PWA will replace the majority of stuff platforms like iOS and Android do, but only a portion of what OSes like Linux, OSX and Windows 10 do. For that, you need UWP on Windows, and win32 needs to die.
  • yeah. PWA is good, but i definitely hope that UWP growth fast as well. because PWA currently not support the fluent design, and i think it won't support it (well, PWA created to be universal so it's gonna looks the same across the platform) which is a shame because fluent design is what's make Windows 10 looks good.
  • And yet all the Office apps still work, TuneIn, TVPlayer etc.
    I've spent the last few days watching hours of Netflix on my 950XL.
    A few unsupported games on a dead platform doesn't mean the death of UWP
  • UWP (can finally) reaches it full potential because WP is gone. * UWP on PC (including S-mode, ARM), Xbox, AR, MR, IOT.
    WP is not really a Windows member.
  • Yeah, WP didn't suck enough to be a Windows member I guess.
  • What are those apps, I never heard of any of them.
  • they should have done it before lumia 950, other apps should also go UWP are spotify,
  • While we're talking about going back in time they should also make the Lumia 950 a phone that was worth buying. And then also not even make Windows 10 Mobile. And then not reboot Windows Phone 7 to 8. And then not use Windows Phone 7 because it's codebase was Windows CE, which could not go forward with modern technologies. etc etc
  • Listing this out shines a light on how crazy the amount of fail has been over the years.
  • And we were there every step of the way, and screamed the failures to their faces but they never listened.
    Every. Single. Failure.
  • It shouldn't require phone to be connected to the internet. It should work as a standalone app on PC and just send the verification code to the phone number while registering. Else won't be much convincing to use like WhatsApp Web.
  • This. I will not use it because of this. I have many friends and family that do and I force them to SMS/Imessage me. I cannot understand why a phone must be connected.
  • Imessage you? You do understand that Imessage is exactly what whatsapp does? Imessage requires a data or wifi connection, otherwise is just sends an sms. And Imessage ONLY works for iPhone users. Whatsapp is on all platforms. And a lot of people travel around the world, where fees are applied if you send text messages. With whatsapp, all you need is a wifi connection (hotels, etc) and you can send messages to anyone who has whatsapp for free. That's how I think whatsapp grew so much, people kept pushing their friends to install it in order for them to keep in touch when they are somewhere where fees are applied to sms.
  • WhatsApp end-to-end encrypts all chats by default, which must reside on the device (much like Telegram's end-to-end chats) -- hence why your chats don't sync across devices (ofc, unless you back them up, which incurs security issues of their own) -- hence why WhatsApp Web needs your phone connected, as the phone is still doing most of the work encrypting chats, while the webapp is just mirroring whats on the device, in laymen terms.
  • Sounds like you should try Telegram..
  • I do use Telegram. I also have the Unigram X app installed on my Windows 10. But it's not at all popular here. I hardly open it.
  • It's much better than WhatsApp, and very popular in Iran and Russia while at odds with the governments of these countries because they simply wouldn't give up user info. Great platform.
  • Security issues would arise if it works without mobile.
    BTW, you can do it using Bluestacks(android emulator).
  • Using the same phone number to register WhatsApp on separate devices causes the older one to sign out. I guess Telegram (and Viber) have implemented what I have said in my comment.
  • I get asked by a few people to install WhatsApp on my phone, but i refuse as it need my phone number to work, also if people want to contact me then do so using SMS or if they must Facebook messenger.
  • Please be available for mobile
  • I'm encouraged that these all fit on phone aspect ratio screens. Maybe we'll see two of these side by side on a future device.
  • As a UWP app, porting to mobile would not be difficult, and most of the concept art in the article showed the app on mobile screens, so I wouldn't worry . . .
  • UWP is meant for both mobile and PC.
    No need to worry.
  • Just let us answer in the notification as Skype does. Done: the perfect whatsapp for Windows.
  • Works that way on Android, reply from the notification. If Whatsapp (that is Facebook) wants to go the extra mile with a good UWP that should be carried over.
  • Yes, and iOS too, but the Windows app, the one in the store, does not even show the notification in the action center.
  • Just a thought, wouldn't a PWA make more sense?
  • Nope, UWP is more secure than PWA I think(maybe).
    In fact, UWP serves native interface which makes it unique from other mobile platforms.
  • There is no PWA for the phone component of Whatsapp.
  • Many will benefit from this if/when it is released. Good news for now.
  • Those still using Windows Mobile 10, beware that UWP is not really Universal anymore. If you target latest platform (or not even that latest, starting from Fall Update), which new app probably will, the app won't be compatible with Windows Mobile 10.
  • I use several UWP apps on my 950XL (Win10 OS 1709; 15254.489) and laptop (Win10 OS 1803; 17134.112) with no issues, so I hope versioning won't be a problem with WA.
  • Look like phone version
  • If WhatsApp had a GoFundMe site to help pay for this... I'd contribute!!! In fact WhatsApp devs... if you're listening in here, charge a buck or two for the app if you like, but yes please kind sirs go UWP!
  • You do know Whatsapp is owned by Facebook, right?
  • Preparing it for Andromeda, obviously.
  • This is sweet, it's like them all saying "Here's what you've thinking when picturing yourself using Andromeda". And their answer is right there. It's happening, guys, and sooner than we think.
  • So Microsoft is starting to make optimised popular apps before the new device release. They learn from mistakes)
  • Funny this article popped up. Yesterday I tried using WhatsApp program in tablet mode on my SP and I couldn't see what I was typing cus the onscreen keyboard got in the way and the program wasnt adjusting accordingly. I'm up for this if true!
  • >On desktops, the UWP app would simply act as a "relay" application this is a terrible and lazy implementation and why I use and prefer the LINE app and stay away from Whatsapp now
  • Don't ruin the current UI pls.
  • So the new Windows 10 core OS can't run the previous old apps so all would need to be remade. Well this is what made alot of developers left windows 10. Don't Microsoft learn 🤔.
    So if a new device is made running this OS you won't get much apps and other things you want you will have to use edge.
    Seems such a waste of a powerful device if made.
    Mobile is dead for Microsoft and that was their own fault.
    Even the Windows 10 Microsoft Store doesn't offer the apps that the general consumer want and use plus the trending apps.
    I wouldn't be surprised if iTunes won't work on the Windows 10 Core OS.
    Microsoft need to make money off the patents they issued and keep making their apps for Android and Apple as they work great and won't be feeding tons of money into a device that will just be dropped.
    Nokia learnt a lesson and blackberry they make devices but don't need to worry about an OS or an OS that flopped.
    Samsung also made its own OS but didn't release it as they know it wouldn't take off due to Apple and Android being to strong.
    If foldable devices get released I will be looking at ones running Android. A big shame I have been a big fan of Windows mobile from Windows mobile 2003 se (best Mobile OS) all the way to Windows 10 Mobile on the 950xl but had to leave due to developers dropping apps I need and use daily. Now use a OnePlus6 all loaded up with Microsoft and the launcher with the syncing working well I think it's how Windows mobile should be in the future.
    Microsoft have now shown even on Android it syncs with Windows 10 and having the Launcher they could create an Android based Microsoft embedded ROM. They get royalties for every Android device sold why not embrace it more.
  • First sentence makes the wrong assumption, skipped the rest...
  • Google has no intention of continuing to push android on tablets, they'll be going with ChromeOS, which with it's Linux emulation will be far more like Windows on ARM/Windows Core and likely run on identical hardware (and thus we will probably eventually see a market filled with ChromeOS and Windows Core variants). This is why they are windows certifying their Google Pixel - they want complete overlap with the ultramobile hybrid market. Nokia has posted a loss for the last two years, and there's no real indication what they are doing is profitable at all. Microsoft is way too big a company to bother with something as trivial as an android based phone with Microsoft software. That works for blackberry, it isn't worth the time of the third biggest tech company in the world. I don't actually think even Google wants to keep going with android, I think they intend to phase it out long term. If they didn't you'd have to wonder why they are extending Chrome so much, developing Fuschia, and pushing PWA, right? I'd bet money Android never gets to "Z". If they wanted to keep going with android, they wouldn't be working on getting Chrome onto tablets, windows certifying the Pixel, or pushing PWA like a pimp (or for that matter developing fuschia). From it's actions Google seems about as comfortable with sticking with android, as a kidnap victim with their kidnappers basement. Indeed in this Google is being very smart, and it's pursuing the same convergence strategy Microsoft is, by trying to build a system that works on different scales - something that can run mobile apps, and desktop software. But given Chrome will support four app plafroms (PWA, chrome apps, android apps, and Linux), and Fuschia thee (android, it's own, and PWA), don't be surprised if google also phases out some vestigial layers later on either. Silverlight is outdated old software platform, and it would be stupid to continue to support it, when it does not run on the crossplatform hardware ecosystem of windows, and barely anything runs using Silverlight except for things like games no one wants to play anymore, and WhatsApp (which they are updating).. If they all died tomorrow, apart from WhatsApp, no one would really care. Which is why they are axing it. If you do go with a Google based foldable phone, in ten years, when they are actually being pitched to everyday consumers (until graphene becomes cheap, this is 100 percent a niche enterprise and creative product, there simply will be no mass adoption until theirs no screen crease and the OS/software ecosystem are refined) - keep in mind that they will have all the same teething issues as MSFT has had already. Let's take ChromeOS as an example - Linux apps won't all work with pen or touch, the vast majority won't scale for smartphone sized single screen mode, android apps won't all scale well for the larger screen, and the android apps, linux apps and chrome apps will all be found in different places (chrome store, play store and online via the broswer) AND linux like win32 on windows on ARM runs through an emulation layer, so unless someone makes a chrome app version, you won't be able to run power software. Ie, trying to run a music composition software, video rendering, or a 3d game via the Linux emulation layer will often be a mess. Likewise at some point Google will want to cut out everything but a single crossplatform scaleable apps system, and force everyone over to it, And similar issues exist with fuschia - it starts with NO app platform for power apps, and only poorly scaling android apps that lack power, and tries to force everyone over to the initially empty app platform (no wonder they want PWA right?) Making a polished hybrid OS is hard as hell. It's literally the biggest software leap we've ever faced in the history of computing. The is no single software project that has more man hours, and no comparable shift on a software ecosystem scale (closest would be the move to win32 from dos, but even that is tiny by comparison, and it took quite some coaxing of developers, and a fair bit of time) No matter what platform you pick, there will be disatisfations, waiting games, mismatches and issues until its done. Herding several different development platforms from several different hardware platforms into one scaleable crossplatform experience is also a matter of a lot of effort, and a lot of time, and no one, not google, not apple, not anyone can avoid the mess that transition creates. And for that reason, you'll probably get a better experience from the company that dealt with all those issues first, rather than the ones that will still be struggling them long after MSFT is done with the whole ordeal. Trust me, every apple, google or whatever is still around user will be having all the gripes you have right now. Heck some of them at that may say "why don't you just use windows, it's already nearly baked". It's simply impossible to undertake a shift this large, without loads of growing pains. That Microsoft has started earlier than anyone else, and tackled some of these pinch points already puts them ahead of the game, not behind. For regular consumers, sure it hurts. It's probably going to annoy people when Google dumps android too. But this is just reality, it's life, if we want to move on from hardware, scale, input and software limited computing, to the vast potential of the future, we'll have to live with it.
  • The solution is simple - telegram...
  • I wish they'd do this with Viber.
  • Of course they won't comment, the majority of the concept art is for a phone display, and admitting it would be spoiling the hyper/surprise for andromeda (because why else would they make a UWP that properly scales for phone displays)
  • By year end, more ACPC running Snap850 will be released. To avoid looking like a reactive instead of proactive, WhatsApp is making the Right decision, any same class apps not doing that, living in the past, will be disrupted. It is not just another UWP visionary-less app, people!!!! If will be an ACPC tailored UWP WhatsApp app!!! UWP golden age is here!!
  • Man do I ever feel grateful for WA developer who still care about WP users...that is loyalty...
  • useless without phone presence.
  • I was asked recently by a recruiter what is my dot Net UWP programing experience. I took out my 950XL to take his contact info. He said, the W10M phone speaks volume of my experience, dedication to the ecosystem, and what I claimed.
  • If it can't run an a PC without phone, it is an instant fail, no matter how it is packaged. Telegram can do it right. I switched to telegram cause it supported MyPeople (I actually used this feature) and now I only use telegram and made most of my friends and family to switch from WhatsApp and messenger.