It’s true that Android apps are finally coming to Windows. They will be fully integrated into the next version of the Windows 11 operating system. You can find and search for apps in a new Microsoft Store. And the apps are displayed right next to your Windows apps in your start menu or integrated into the new taskbar.
The function is officially called “Windows Subsystem for Android”, which should tell you a lot about how it works. Windows currently has a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) that uses a subset of Hyper-V functionality to run Linux apps on a real Linux kernel alongside your Windows apps. (Hyper-V lets a second guest operating system access the bare metal hardware instead of running on the host operating system with less access to resources.) Real Android phones use the Linux kernel, and Microsoft is building an Android framework on WSL for W the Windows subsystem for Android. It sounds like we’re running x86 Android on Hyper-V.
Android apps on Windows should feel like native Windows apps, with a top-level window, a taskbar entry, and the ability to be pinned to the Start menu. During his presentation, Microsoft said, “Behind the scenes, we are actually creating a native proxy app that bridges the gap between the Android app model and the Windows app model.” Presumably, this means that the system is doing things like a start menu -Provides shortcut, icons, app uninstall list entries, and other minor Windows wraps that make the app feel like it’s native.
Microsoft tries to do this with as little emulation as possible – maybe even without emulation, depending on the availability of your computer and app. Both Windows and Android run on x86 and Arm architectures, with Android preferring Arm and Windows preferring x86. If you’re running Windows on Arm and want to run an Arm Android app, things will work great. If you’re using x86 Windows, Microsoft will try to send you an x86 version of the Android app you want. But if the only thing available is an Arm app, “Intel Bridge Technology” is here to help by translating that Arm code into something that an x86 CPU can run. Microsoft has helpfully pointed out that this feature also works on AMD CPUs.
Microsoft engineer Miguel de Icaza confirmed that Windows 11 supports sideloading for those who don’t want to mess with that Amazon stuff. You should immediately have options for open source stores like F-Droid and the ability to sideload APKMirror apps. It will probably only be a matter of time before someone gets the entire Google Play Store up and running.
X86 apps are widespread on Google Play thanks to years of default settings and the pressure for additional architecture support. However, is x86 widely used in the Amazon App Store? You can sideload the Amazon App Store on any Android device, but the Echo Fire devices that exclusively use Amazon have all been poor. Many apps are universal and run on all architectures, so … maybe.
It would have been nice if Microsoft pulled a Surface Duo and teamed up with Google to get the actual Play Store in Windows 11. The problem with using Android outside of the Play Store is that you have access to the Google Play Services APIs for things like. lose messages. Amazon has been building its own replacement APIs and cloud services for Fire OS for years, and if you can’t have Google Play, it’s the next best thing.