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Just wondering why some apps are running in the background tasks and claim they need this to receive some information.

WhatsApp for example says:

When enabled, WhatsApp will retrieve messages in the background.

As far as I know those messages are received via push notifications so there isn't the need for background tasks since they do not update anything else (as of March 2014).

TL;DR

So my question is if I disable background tasks the push notifications will still work?

What about specific case of WhatsApp?

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No, push notifications do not need a specific background task for each app wanting push notifications, for updating live tiles or sending toast notifications (there are developer samples on MSDN that demonstrate this without the background task).

Some applications may use raw notifications, which are only delivered if the app is running. For example, WhatsApp could use a background agent to keep it's message store up to date, so that you could read the messages if you have fallen out of data range when you actually come to click on the app's tile (which may have been updated by a push notification).

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