Microsoft has been chasing the dream of creating a consistent experience between mobile devices and PCs, and after abandoning its own mobile phone OS, the software company looked to Android to bring mobile apps to PC. Microsoft has built the Windows Subsystem for Android to allow Window PCs to emulate Android apps downloaded from the Amazon Appstore.
As long as you have the right hardware, getting started with Android apps on Windows 11 is fairly straightforward. First and foremost, your PC will need to be running the latest build of Windows 11 so your PC needs to be compatible with the latest operating system from Microsoft. Once you're up to date, your PC can be configured to run Android apps with ease.
Get your PC ready for Android apps
As mentioned, you'll need to be on the latest stable build of Windows 11 to be ready for Android apps. You'll also need to be signed in with your Microsoft account and be able to access the Windows Store. You'll also need an Amazon account. Finally, you need to be in the U.S. as it's currently the first and only market to offer official Android app support.
Virtualization needs to be enabled on your machine. Instructions to do this can vary by PC manufacturer and CPU so you should check with your manufacturer for your specific hardware. If you're handy with a PC BIOS, it could be as simple as enabling AMD-V or VT-x. The Windows feature Virtual Machine Platform must also be enabled though many PCs purchased with Windows 11 will have this enabled by default. Windows Central (opens in new tab) goes into more depth if your system needs a more precise configuration.
Once you've done these preflight checks, you're ready to get started.
1. Open the Windows Store app on your PC.
2. Click Library on the bottom left. On this page, click update to update all installed apps.
3. Search for Amazon Appstore in the search box at the top of the window.
4. Select Amazon Appstore and click Install to start the process.
5. A pop-up will prompt you to "Get your PC ready for Amazon Appstore." Follow the steps by clicking Set up, Download, then Restart.
6. Once your PC has restarted, you can open the Amazon Appstore.
Using the Amazon Appstore is fairly straightforward with a selection of recommendations available on the home page. If you know exactly what you're after, you can search for it. Once you've found the app you want, click on Get to install the app.
Keep in mind that not all of your Android apps will be available on Amazon Appstore, especially those made by Google. Still, with a solid selection of apps and games, there's a good chance you'll be able to find a handful of apps you already use.
Once the app is installed, it acts like any other Windows app on your system. You can move and minimize the window containing the app as well. It's worth considering that many Android apps were designed with touch in mind so if you don't have a touchscreen Windows PC, navigation may not be as fluid as using an app on a phone.
Is Windows 11 really a good fit for Android apps?
A lot of the services we use are already available on both Android and Windows in one form or another. Sometimes this means installing a Windows native app or just accessing a service from a web browser. Even so, Microsoft's commitment to making Android apps work smoothly on Windows is a nice option to have, especially if you use a service that simply feels much nicer in an app.
There are some other things that could make the experience much nicer. For one thing, Google Play Store would be a game-changer for this service since the majority of Android users get their apps from Google's store. There are ways around the limitation (opens in new tab), though they aren't officially supported.
Another option if you still haven't purchased a new PC yet is a Chromebook. In fact, some of the best Chromebooks are also some of the best laptops you can buy. ChromeOS comes with Google Play Store so you can install a larger collection of apps on your ChromeOS device.
If you're looking for a computer with support for Android apps, a Chromebook may be a better fit. This Chromebook from Lenovo has a 13.3-inch display, 8GB of RAM, and a Core i3 CPU, giving you plenty of performance for day-to-day tasks.
When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.
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