Windows 11 Beta Channel Can Now Run Android Apps

Microsoft announced on Wednesday that some Android apps can now be run on Windows 11 when using the latest Windows Insider program Beta Channel release.

Just 50 Android apps can be tried, and they are associated with the Amazon Appstore, explained Aidan Marcuss, corporate vice president of Windows, and Giorgio Sardo, general manager of Microsoft Store, in an announcement:

We have partnered with Amazon and popular app developers to curate 50 apps for Windows Insiders to test and validate across a broad set of hardware. We will release new apps through Windows Insider Program updates in the coming months.

These Android apps for Windows 11 Beta Channel are capable of running on "eligible devices running Intel, AMD and Qualcomm platforms," but just for U.S. users right now, they explained.

Windows Subsystem for Android
Microsoft's Windows Subsystem for Android technology is the Windows 11 component that supports running Android apps. The subsystem, currently at version 1.7.32815.0, essentially is a virtual machine that "provides compatibility with the AOSP framework" (Android Open Source Project), Microsoft noted in this "Windows Subsystem for Android" document.

Windows Subsystem for Android provides the mappings needed to run Android apps on Windows 11, Marcuss and Sardo explained:

The Subsystem runs in a Hyper-V Virtual Machine, like the Windows Subsystem for Linux. It understands how to map the runtime and APIs of apps in the AOSP environment to the Windows graphic layer, the memory buffers, the input modes, the physical and virtual devices, and the sensors.

Microsoft also plans to support "Arm-only" Android apps on Windows 11 via a partnership with Intel.

"We are partnering with Intel to leverage Intel Bridge Technology to enable Arm-only apps to run on AMD and Intel devices, enabling customers to get the broadest set of apps on the broadest set of devices," Marcuss and Sardo added.

Android Apps from Microsoft Store
The Android apps for the Windows 11 Beta Channel release come from the newly revamped Microsoft Store app repository, which can house other app stores, such as Amazon Appstore.

Just downloading an Android app from the Microsoft Store will deliver the Windows Subsystem for Android component if it isn't already present on a Windows 11 system. The Microsoft Store keeps installed Android apps updated, as well.

No Dev Channel Release Yet
Android apps can be run using the "Windows 11 Build series builds," Microsoft explained. For now, just Windows 11 Beta Channel users have access to the Android apps.

The Windows Insider program distributes test versions of Microsoft's operating systems into so-called "channel releases." There are three channels, namely Dev, Beta and Release Preview. Pundits expected that Dev Channel users, being more on the leading edge, would get access to the Android apps, but it will happen further "down the road," Microsoft indicated.

Microsoft recently tweaked the Dev Channel to deliver features released at the "earliest stage in a new development cycle," which "aren't always stable builds," Microsoft explained in its Wednesday announcement of Windows 11 Insider preview build 22483, which is the latest Dev Channel release. Dev Channel users can't easily switch to the Beta channel if they are hoping to try the new Android apps.

Here's how Microsoft expressed that point:

Build numbers are higher in the Dev Channel than the Windows 11 preview builds in the Beta and Release Preview Channels. You will not be able to switch from the Dev Channel to the Beta or Release Preview Channels without doing a clean install back to the released version of Windows 11 currently.

Windows 10 Version 21H1 Release Preview
In addition to Windows 11 news, Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it had released Windows 10 build 19043.1319 of version 21H1 to the Release Preview Channel.

This release fixes a bunch of Windows 10 version 21H1 bugs, including out-of-box experience glitches, a virtual private network connection problem with Windows Server 2019 and Server Message Block query failures, among others.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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