WhatsApp previously did not have a dedicated desktop version, with the Windows and Mac apps simply using the web version in an Electron shell. Think of it as putting a fancy plastic wrapper around the web version and calling it “WhatsApp Desktop”.
However, this changed last year when Windows received a native version, which is now available to everyone and looks much better than before, and has more functionality.
A native version of the app for macOS also entered beta testing in the past. Initially, it was only available to TestFlight participants, but it is now publicly available for download on the official site for macOS Big Sur and newer versions.
It should be noted that this version is still in the early stages of development and may have some bugs. You can download it from WhatsApp’s official website if you want to try it for yourself.
The WhatsApp development team utilized Apple’s Mac Catalyst framework for building the app’s native version for macOS. The framework is meant to make it easier for developers to build apps that can run both on macOS and iPad.
This is surprising as there is currently no WhatsApp app available for iPad, leaving users with the web version only. It is possible that this may change in the future as the app progresses out of beta.