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Does closing an app also end any background threads in Windows Phone 8.1 or 8.0?

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Nope, this is not under your control

For example, killing WhatsApp doesn't stop you receiving notifications. It can mean part of the app is still running in the background.

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Notifications are NOT a guaranteed sign that an app is using a background process. A push-notification can happen without an app implementing a background process. msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsphone/develop/… –  caschw May 28 at 18:41

Closing an app does NOT kill the background process it may have. To kill a background task in Windows Phone 7.x and 8.0 you can access the background process options in settings. In Windows Phone 8.1 you can disable a background process in the battery saver application.

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