A first look at Microsoft’s new Windows 11 Android apps support

Microsoft has released the preview version of its Android app support in Windows 11. The preview version is available for Windows 11 Beta Channel testers. To access it, you will need to sign up for the Windows Insider program. I have tested the preview version on two Windows 11 systems: a gaming rig using a Core i9 11900K processor and a Surface Pro X from Microsoft to see how Android apps work on Windows 11.
It is easy to install apps. Microsoft has partnered up with Amazon so that the Microsoft Store will list your apps and send you to Amazons Appstore to install or update them. This will also install a Windows Subsystem to Android in the background. This is the core technology behind Android apps that run on Windows 11.

Apps can run in a virtual environment, which is able to be accessed from the same place as other Windows apps. Android apps can be pin to the taskbar or Start menu. You can use all the multitasking and windowing features of Windows 11 like a desktop app.

Although there are only 50 apps in the preview, I was able install Amazons Kindle app and BBC Sounds app. Also, I installed a bunch games to see how Windows 11 handles mobile gaming.

Apps ran surprisingly well on both my Intel-powered gaming rig and the Surface Pro X (an Arm powered device). They ran as normal Windows desktop apps alongside Word, Chrome and other apps.

Apps appear in search results just like regular Windows apps. The integration with the taskbar and Start menu makes them feel exactly the same as any other app. It's seamless and well-integrated.

However, the preview isn't perfect. When I tried to run four Android games side-by-side using Windows 11's Snap Layouts feature on a gaming PC, I saw 100 percent CPU usage. It suddenly felt sluggish, but it soon came back to life and CPU usage returned to normal.

The Surface Pro X also had issues with games running at low frame rates and stuttering. This preview is only for Windows 11 users. I hope that performance improves before the final product ships.

Final Fantasy XV also reloaded when I tried to resize it. Some apps and games don't resize well. The way developers built apps will determine how they perform, but most apps should run well in phones-sized dimensions.

It all depends on whether you really need or want Android apps. Personally, I only use a few, such as the Kindle app and some smart home apps. But the Android mobile games are what interests me the most.

Bluestacks has been supporting Android apps on Windows for many years. The company has also heavily invested in mobile games on Windows. Although Microsoft is late to this party, its subsystem clearly shows years of effort to make Windows run Linux kernels and GUI applications. Bluestacks, on the other hand, is working to bring Android apps into the browser so they can be run in the cloud. While Microsoft is busy with Android apps for Windows 11 being tested and released to work, Bluestacks continues to develop Android apps in the browser.

Microsoft's Android app support is dependent on Amazon Appstore, which currently has only a small number of apps on Google Play Store. Although it is likely that someone will sideload it onto Windows 11 to unlock many more apps, Microsoft won't officially support this.

The initial preview is still much more polished and complete (on the right hardware) that I expected. This may be a possibility for all users of Windows 11 sooner than expected, according to Microsoft's Beta Channel of Windows Insider.