Microsoft said Wednesday that a small number of Android apps will begin rolling out as part of a new Windows 11 beta, adding a feature the company promised at the Windows 11 unveiling but that wasn’t available at launch.
About 50 of the new Android apps will be made available via Microsoft and Amazon, including apps like Lords Mobile, June’s Journey, Amazon Kindle and Khan Academy Kids. They are rolling out via a somewhat convoluted arrangement, where the apps will be provided by the Amazon AppStore Preview—which is its own app, found within the Windows Store. Microsoft originally promised Android apps as feature of Windows 11, but they weren’t available for the initial release of the OS.
The technology, provided by Intel, will create a Windows Subsystem for Android in much the same way that Windows already creates a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2). Essentially, users will be running the apps within a virtualized Android Open Source Project environment, version 11. Users will be able to move and pin Android apps to their Start menu or Taskbar, interact with them via pen, mouse, or touch, and receive notifications, too. It very much sounds like the way in which Linux apps can be interacted with as part of the WSL2 environment, or how Android apps can be remotely controlled via the Your Phone Companion app for Windows.
Microsoft didn’t say when these new Android apps will arrive on the stable release of Windows 11. They will require a new Windows 11 build from the Beta Channel, which should be now supplying builds from next year’s release of Windows 11, since Windows 11 has now generally released. These new apps are also only available to U.S. customers.
Microsoft has created a short guide on how to enable the new Android apps on Windows 11.
Your PC needs to be on Windows 11 (Build 22000.xxx series builds) and meet these hardware requirements.
You may need to enable virtualization for your PC’s BIOS/UEFI. Click here for a guide on how to enable this on your PC.
Your PCs’ region must be set to the U.S.
Your PC must be in the Beta Channel. If you are new to the Windows Insider Program, click here to get started with registration and joining your PC to the Beta Channel.
You will also need to have a U.S.-based Amazon account to use the Amazon Appstore.
At the time of this writing, however, the new build that provided access to the Android apps wasn’t immediately available. Microsoft also won’t be providing access to Android apps (for now, anyway) to the Dev Channel, which operates on a slightly different code base from the stable or Beta channels.
As PCWorld's senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.