Atlassian’s HipChat is stepping up to its commitment to roll out native clients for its real-time group chat and private messaging tool, with a beta release of the Linux client. The Linux client couldn’t come fast enough: Adobe AIR no longer supports the open-source operating system, which means the new native app adds to the web-based client as another option for Linux-based users.
Also, since Adobe AIR is bad and awful, the Linux client not only brings a standalone app back to Linux, but also greatly improves functionality over previous versions. It’s not bug-free and is still missing some features compared to other versions (there’s no auto sign-in, for instance), but it’s completely usable for those working on Linux machines. Native Linux support has become the most-requested HipChat customer request, according to Atlassian, which is in part why this release pushed ahead of the Windows app in terms of the priority queue.
For HipChat, the Linux release follows the introduction of the Mac app beta, as well as the launch of rebuilt Android Beta client around a month ago. The Windows app mentioned above is also still on track for a release “coming soon,” HipChat says, though it didn’t give a specific window for launch.
Paired with its recent decision to offer an entry-level tier of service completely free for up to five users, HipChat’s aggressive rollout of native clients indicates it’s looking to try to lock up the group chat market with an approach that both lowers the barrier to entry for new users, and makes sure they’ll have access via the platform of their choice to the service when they do sign up. Since teaming up with Atlassian, the HipChat go-to-market strategy seems to have shifted, which means we should see some interesting changes to their user and subscriber numbers over the course of the next few months.