Facebook Messenger arrives as a standalone app on MacOS and Windows


Facebook has launched its first Messenger app for desktop, which is available now on MacOS and Windows.

The social network first announced plans to release a Messenger desktop app at its F8 conference a year ago, but with this year's conference canceled, and with users relying on digital services to communicate more than ever, Facebook released the app this week with little fanfare.

This fuss-free approach likely comes as Facebook looks to compete with the likes of Google Hangouts and Zoom, the latter of which has seen its user base surge from 10 million to 200 million in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook's all-new desktop app, which has been designed from the ground up to make it look and feel like a proper native app rather than a browser based service, packs all of the features you would expect. It boasts unlimited free video and group calls, supports GIFs and notifications, syncs calls across all devices and comes, naturally, with a built-in Dark Mode.

"Now more than ever, people are using technology to stay in touch with the people they care about, even when physically apart," said Stan Chudnovsky, VP of Messenger.

"Over the past month, we saw more than a 100% increase in people using their desktop browser for audio and video calling on Messenger. Now with apps for MacOS and Windows, the best of Messenger is coming to desktop, including unlimited and free group video calls."

Though many will welcome the arrival of a desktop Messenger app, it's unlikely to persuade remote workers to move away from Zoom. Facebook's video-calling service can only handle 8 participants, opposed to 100 or even 500 with Zoom, and Messenger doesn't yet support screen-sharing or offer a way to easily share a URL that lets other people join a call. Rather, you'll need to be friends with someone before you're able to chat to them.

However, for those looking to ditch Zoom given the myriad of privacy concerns surrounding the service at present, it's worth noting that Facebook Workplace supports up to 50 people on a single chat and offers screen-sharing functionality.

Facebook Messenger for desktop is available to download now for free from the Microsoft Store and Mac App Store.