Windows 11 includes an optional feature that lets you run Android apps on Windows PCs. The Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) first debuted as a preview in the fall of 2021, and became generally available a year later, meaning that you didn’t need to run a beta or dev channel build of Windows to use it.
But instead of partnering with Google to bring Android apps to Windows, Microsoft partnered with Amazon and bundled the Amazon Appstore with WSA. And despite Microsoft’s claim last fall that 50,000 apps were available, the Appstore for Windows 11 has largely been a ghost town, partly because Amazon only worked with a small group of developers to officially bring their apps to Windows. Now Amazon says the Appstore on Windows 11 is “generally available for all developers,” which means that it should be a lot easier for Android app developers to bring their apps to Windows.
Amazon notes that developers can port their apps to Windows by testing them on a Windows 11 PC with the Windows Subsystem for Android installed. The main difference between running Android apps on PC and mobile is that most PC users will interact with apps using a mouse and/or keyboard, but developers will also want to make sure their apps play well with x86 architecture and PC graphics, among other things.
It’s been a while since I tested the Appstore on Windows 11, but when I fired it up this morning I found that a few older games already linked to my account including Monument Valley and World Of Goo were available for download and both seemed to run well on Windows, although Monument Valley only runs in a phone-shaped Windows, while World of Goo plays well in a larger landscape-oriented window. Unfortunately World of Goo no longer seems to be available for download from the Amazon Appstore for new customers, which is part of the problem with Microsoft’s partnering with Amazon rather than Google: only a small subset of all Android apps are available in Amazon’s store.
That said, maybe Amazon’s move to throw open the doors to all developers could attract a few more developers who are looking to ensure that their apps are able to run on Windows PCs as well as Amazon Fire tablets, Fire TVs, and other Android-based devices with the Amazon Appstore installed.
When you install the Windows Subsystem for Android, the Amazon Appstore is installed automatically as part of the process, making it the easiest way to install Android apps on a Windows PC.
But folks have been finding other ways to load Android apps on Windows PCs for just about as long as the Windows Subsystem for Android has been available. There are a number of open source apps that make it easy to sideload Android apps downloaded from third-party sources. And it’s even possible to install the Google Play Store using tools like MagiskOnWSA (which also provides root access and support for removing the Amazon Appstore).
So if there’s an Android app you really want to run on your computer that’s not available from Amazon, there are still options. But for most casual users, I suppose it’s good news that Amazon has announced general availability of the Appstore on Windows… even if it is nearly two years after WSA first launched.