Following through on their promise of enabling Android apps to run natively on Windows 11, Microsoft has finally announced that Android apps will be coming to Windows 11 via Windows Insider on Wednesday.
However, running Android apps on your Windows PC isn’t as easy as just heading to the Play Store and downloading them. Instead, Microsoft has partnered with Amazon to curate over 50 apps for Windows Insiders to test. The apps will be released through the Windows Insider Program in the coming months.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has tried integrating Android apps in their ecosystem, either. In the dying days of Windows Phones, they tried enabling sideloading Android apps on their mobile devices as well, although it admittedly didn’t go quite as well.
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Android on Windows
Members of the Insider program will be able to test some apps on Windows 11 straight away. Games like Lords Mobile, June’s Journey and Coin Masters, among others, are available. The Kindle app for Android, Khan Academy Kids and Lego Duplo World are also out for testing.
These apps work natively on Windows without any kind of emulator, thanks to something called the Windows Subsystem for Android, which powers the Amazon Appstore and its entire catalogue.
The subsystem includes the Linux kernel and Android OS based on the Android Open Source Project version 11. It is distributed through the Microsoft store as part of the Amazon Appstore installation. Microsoft adds that the subsystem will be updated over time as they continue to support more APIs, scenarios and capabilities.
The whole thing does run in a Hyper-V Virtual Machine, though, much like Windows Subsystem for Linux that allows Linux terminals to be installed on Windows via the Microsoft Store. The subsystem helps map the runtime and APIs of apps running in the AOSP environment to the Windows GUI, memory buffers, input modes and any other physical and virtual devices, including any sensors your PC might have.
The subsystem will also run across Windows regardless of the processor, so any concerns regarding Hyper-V not being available for AMD are gone. Whether you’re rocking an Intel, AMD or even Qualcomm processor, if you can run Windows 11, you can run the Windows subsystem for Android.
Microsoft has partnered with Intel to use their Intel Bridge tech to enable ARM only apps to run on AMD and Intel devices giving their users a pretty wide set of apps on a broad set of devices.
Keep in mind that the subsystem requires your PC to meet the minimum system requirements for Windows 11, and Microsoft will be using this release to validate and adjust these requirements.