A First Look at New Support for Microsoft’s Windows 11 Android Apps

Microsoft has released the first preview version of its Android app support in Windows 11. It’s available to testers in the Beta Channel version of Windows 11, which means you’ll need to sign up for the Windows Insider program to get it. to access. I installed the preview version on two systems – a gaming rig with a Core i9 11900K and Microsoft’s Surface Pro X – to get an exact idea of ​​how Android apps run on Windows 11.

The experience of installing apps is very simple. Microsoft has partnered with Amazon, so the Microsoft Store will list the apps but send you to Amazon’s Appstore app to install or update them. This also installs a Windows Subsystem for Android in the background, which is the core technology that powers Android apps running on Windows 11.

The Windows Subsystem for Android powers the whole experience.

Applications run efficiently in a virtual machine, contained in their own world but able to sit side by side with other Windows applications. You can pin Android apps to the Start menu or taskbar and use all of Windows 11’s windowing and multitasking features like a regular desktop app.

While there are only 50 apps officially available in this preview, I was able to install Amazon’s Kindle app, BBC Sounds app, and a bunch of games to test how well Windows 11 handles games. mobile.

On the Surface Pro X (an Arm-powered device) and my Intel-powered gaming rig, apps performed surprisingly well. I was able to run them with Word, Chrome, and other desktop apps, like they were just regular Windows apps.

Android apps and games running side by side.

Apps appear in search results as if they were normal Windows apps, and integration into the Start menu and taskbar makes them feel like any other app. It’s a surprisingly transparent and well-integrated solution.

The preview isn’t perfect, however. I noticed 100% CPU usage when I tried to run four Android games side by side using Windows 11 Snap Layouts on my gaming PC. Everything suddenly felt like it was wrong. drags it, until, a few seconds later, it comes back to life and the processor usage returns to normal.

Likewise, games didn’t seem to perform very well on the Surface Pro X with low frame rates and stuttering. This is a preview though, so I hope to see performance improve before this ships to all Windows 11 users.

Amazon’s Appstore is the only official way to get Android apps on Windows 11 outside of sideloading.

I also noticed in Final Fantasy XV that the game reloads when you try to resize it, and some apps and games don’t resize particularly well. It all depends on how the developers have built their apps, but expect most to perform best in phone-like dimensions.

The question is whether you really want or need Android apps. Personally, I only need a handful of them, like the Kindle app or some smart home apps, but I am most interested in Android mobile games.

Bluestacks has supported Android apps on Windows for years, and the company has put a lot of emphasis on supporting mobile games on Windows. Microsoft is late here, but its subsystem is clearly the result of years of working to extend Windows to run Linux kernels and GUI applications. While Microsoft is busy running Android apps on Windows 11, Bluestacks is now in the process of integrating Android apps into the browser and running them in the cloud.

Android apps can run together with Windows apps.

Support for Microsoft’s Android apps currently relies on the Amazon Appstore, which contains only a fraction of the apps available on the Google Play Store. It’s inevitable that someone will load this on Windows 11 and unlock lots of other apps with it, but Microsoft won’t officially support it.

Still, the initial preview is much more complete and smoother (on the right material) than I expected. Microsoft’s initial release on the Windows Insider Beta Channel also suggests this could appear for anyone using Windows 11 much sooner than expected.

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