The Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) is a Windows 11 feature that lets you install and run Android apps on a Windows computer. Microsoft first previewed the feature in 2021, rolled out a preview to beta testers a few months later, followed by a public beta in early 2022 and a wider launch later that year.

And now Microsoft has announced the next step: it’s pulling the plug on the Windows Subsystem for Android next year.

Audible Android app running on a Windows 11 PC

In an update posted this week to the Windows Subsystem for Android support documentation, Microsoft notes that it’s “ending support for the Windows Subsystem for Android™️ (WSA)” on March 5, 2025.

The company notes that “all applications and games dependent on WSA will no longer be supported” after that date.

It’s unclear exactly why Microsoft has decided to axe this feature, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a combination of tech trends influenced the move. When the company first announced it was adding support for Android apps, it seemed like a response to long-running complaints that Windows tablets didn’t have access to the broad ecosystem of mobile, touch-friendly apps that iPads and Android tablets did… but Microsoft never struck a deal with Google to allow users to install the Google Play Store on its tablets, and instead partnered with Amazon to offer Amazon Appstore integration with WSA and the Microsoft Store.

But Amazon’s Appstore is kind of a wasteland that’s missing many of the most popular Android apps and games available from the Play Store. That said, Amazon’s own Android apps including Audible, ComiXology, and Kindle work pretty nicely with WSA and it’ll be a shame to see those go because Amazon doesn’t offer native Windows versions of those apps through the Microsoft Store (instead the company offers web apps that lack some of the capabilities of its Android apps).

Some users did figure out how to unofficially install Google’s app store or sideload apps from sources other than the Amazon Appstore. But the process for doing these things was never particularly user-friendly. And overall I wouldn’t be surprised if WSA usage has remained pretty small over the past few years.

Also worth keeping in mind? Apps are boring and old-school. Tech companies are chasing shiny new things, and Microsoft seems to be one of many companies that’s shifting its focus to AI.

So what does this mean for folks that are using WSA to run Android apps on their Windows PCs? In the short term, nothing. If you’ve already installed the Amazon Appstore or any Android apps or games, they should continue to work through March 5, 2025 and Microsoft will continue to offer technical support.

But according to Amazon, starting March 6, 2024 you won’t find the Amazon Appstore or any associated Android apps in Microsoft Store search results anymore, and developers will no longer be able to submit new apps targeting Windows 11 (although developers with apps that are already available for Windows 11 will be able to continue releasing updates through March 5, 2025).

Amazon notes that if you’ve uninstalled the Appstore and would like to reinstall it, you’ll still be able to do that until the end-of-support date by copying and pasting this link into a browser: ms-windows-store://pdp?productid=9NJHK44TTKSX&launch=true&cid=amazon.

While I rarely used the Windows Subsystem for Android after kicking the tires in the early days, I am still a bit sad to see it go. It would have been far more useful if Microsoft and Google had worked together to bring the Play Store to Windows PCs, but WSA still offered one of the easiest methods for running mobile apps on a Windows computer without the need to install a third-party emulator or virtual machine like BlueStacks, Genymotion, or Nox.

via The Verge, Microsoft, and Amazon (1)(2)

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  1. Let’s be honest here, they are doing this because telemetry is telling them the feature isn’t being used at a significant level. I tried it, then promptly removed it because there really wasn’t a point. Between native apps and PWAs I didn’t have a hole in my loadout that this filled. Sure, some people will have edge cases where it is valuable, but that doesn’t save features at MS, ask all the WP/WM fans who still mourn their Lumia phones.

    1. Not just telemetry, but the money they were getting from Amazon probably wasn’t enough.
      Thinking about it a little more, if you have a feature that requires people to change something in the UEFI settings, you’re probably never going to see a lot of adoption. Just because I’ve done it on every computer I’ve touched doesn’t mean most people even know UEFI settings exist.
      And then there’s google constantly changing APIs and things that might be required for the totally seamless workflow and ARM emulation.
      So I can see the motivation to stop development, but it’s a little less clear why they’d go as far as to take away software that you installed. People spoke of security concerns, but it would have to be Enterprise subscribers complaining about being unable to realistically manually remove it from every computer, home users are barely a consideration for Microsoft.

  2. I bought a Surface Pro 9 last week, had sideloaded all my comic reading apps because nobody does a decent web interface. I ultimately decided I couldn’t trust the shoehorn nature of it all to be available long term so I returned it for an iPad. I guess I couldn’t have been more right.

    1. “couldn’t trust the shoehorn nature of it all to be available long term”

      proceeds to buy an iPad

      lol

  3. What?
    When news of WSA first dropped I thought that was literally going to be the future of Windows and no one was going to develop for anything other than Android and iOS because every socially relevant desktop OS could run apps for those.
    I can understand why Google wouldn’t make a deal, if they had Americans would just use their PCs for everything Play Store related and have little reason not to buy iPhones.
    But in terms of workflow, this was literally the most seamless out of any android emulators I’ve ever used, and that includes Waydroid which doesn’t even rely on virtualization. People were thinking it would bring Windows Phone back to life. Why just throw all that work out? I can only imagine there must have been a problem with the deal with Amazon, and Microsoft has convinced itself somehow that it wasn’t worth it to make its own repositories of .apks and .aabs, or there’s something changed about Android publishing that I don’t know about.

    I guess it just goes to show you can’t rely on anything but Win32, anything else and Microsoft can pull the rug out from under you.

    1. Same story, I hoped it will pave way to WinPhone again, device that I can connect to display and use as full fledged Windows PC, but with Uber/Lyft/banking apps this time.
      But in reality, by the time WSA arrived almost all the apps I need either already had native versions (well, Electron), or still can’t run due to requirement of SIM card or similar BS.
      Its amazing how MS manages to half-ass and then kill literally every good thing they start. Reminds me of research projects students do in the universities.

    2. I am glad this happened. IT is far better to see these tech giants compete against each other rather than forming into a chummy gang. The only unknown is how much AI will transform the nature of applications, for example AI has already desecrated and destroyed the visual arts economy and is now working on further bastardizing the music industry.