Android Apps

Thanks to a technology called the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA), you can run a subset of available Android apps in Windows 11 alongside Desktop, Microsoft Store, and web apps. These apps are available via the Amazon Appstore, which is installed in Windows 11 when you install WSA.

It’s likely that you haven’t heard of the Amazon Appstore. This mobile app store was created by Amazon as an alternative to the Google Play Store that is found in mainstream versions of Android. And as such, it does not include Google’s Android apps or many other popular Android apps.

Install the Windows Subsystem for Android

There are several different ways to arrive at a working version of the Windows Subsystem for Android in Windows 11. But after a lot of trial and error, we’re confident that this is the most reliable way to do so.

First, you should install an optional Windows 11 feature called Virtual Machine Platform. This feature, also used by the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), lets your PC emulate different operating systems, like Android and Linux.

Virtual Machine Platform is based on, but separate from, the hypervisor-based technologies that power Hyper-V, the Windows 11-based virtualization platform that lets you virtually run other operating systems—usually Windows or Linux—from within Windows 11. One might think of Virtual Machine Platform as the subset of Hyper-V required for WSA and WSL.

To install Virtual Machine Platform, open Search and search for features. Then, select “Turn Windows features on or off” to open the Windows Features control panel.

Scroll down, find “Virtual Machine Platform,” select it, and click OK. Windows 11 will need to reboot to fully install this feature. Do so.

If you are running Windows 11 on a supported PC—that is, you have not installed it on unsupported hardware—Virtual Machine Platform is supported. That said, it’s possible that your PC is not configured properly to enable virtualization features like Virtual Machine Platform, and in this case you won’t be able to install this feature. A Microsoft support document explains what you need to do to enable it.

Then, when you’ve signed in again, open the Microsoft Store app and search for Amazon Appstore. An installer for the Appstore will appear.

Click “Install” next to Amazon Appstore. The Amazon Appstore installation wizard appears.

Complete the wizard as prompted. After the subsystem is installed, you can run the Amazon Appstore and install Android apps, as described below.

Configure the Windows Subsystem for Android

The first time you run an Android app in Windows 11—including the Amazon Appstore—you will see a window explaining that the Windows Subsystem for Android is loading.

By default, this window will appear after reboots and if enough time has gone by since the last time you ran an Android app: Windows 11 won’t load this subsystem until its needed, and it tries to intelligently manage system resources going forward. However, you can configure WSA to work differently, and depending on your needs.

If you will always be using one or more Android apps, you may want WSA to run automatically every time your boot into Windows. To make this configuration change, open Task Manager, navigate to the Startup apps tab, and locate “Windows Subsystem for Android” in the list: it is disabled by default. Select it and click the “Enable” toolbar button.

WSA can also be further managed with the Windows Subsystem for Android Settings app, which you will now find in your Start menu.

Most of the end-user features you may want to configure can be found in the System page. Some options to consider include:

Subsystem resources. By default, WSA is configured to silently close when you’re not using Android apps. However, you can change this to “Continuous” to keep WSA running in the background after you’ve closed the last running Android app. When you do so, subsequent Android apps will open more quickly. But WSA also consumes a small amount of RAM and CPU resources, so it’s a trade-off.

Graphics and performance. If your PC has multiple graphics processors (GPUs)—systems with both integrated and dedicated graphics are common these days—you can configure how WSA interacts with this hardware. The default setting is “Dynamic,” but you can also specify that WSA uses a specific GPU if you’d like.

Reset to defaults. This one is self-explanatory, but it doesn’t impact whether WSA runs automatically at start-up.

Turn off Windows Subsystem for Android. This option will quit WSA immediately, freeing up whatever resources it is using and closing any running Android apps.

As you install Android apps, you may wish to use the Compatibility page in Windows Subsystem for Android Settings. Here, you will find per-app configurations that might aid with compatibility.

Install and run an Android app

Once WSA is installed and configured, you can install any apps and games that are available in the Amazon Appstore. This app looks and works like a simplified version of the Microsoft Store, but is dedicated only to Android apps and games.

You will need to sign in to your Amazon account first.

Each app and game provides its own landing page with screenshots, promotional material, reviews, and more.

To install the app, click “Install.” When that process is complete, the “Install” button will change to an “Open” button. And a shortcut to the app will appear in the Start menu. Either way, you can run the app as you do any other apps.

Android apps in the Amazon Appstore are tailored to work properly on PCs, so they support keyboard and mouse, can typically be resized, and they generally look and work like any other apps. They can be pinned to the Taskbar, of course, and appear in Alt + Tab.

Uninstall an Android app

Android apps are installed like any other apps. The easiest way is to find the app in Start, right-click it, and choose “Uninstall.”

Uninstall the Windows Subsystem for Android

You can also uninstall WSA. There are two easy ways to do so: Find Windows Subsystem for Android in Start, right-click, and choose “Uninstall,” or … find Amazon Appstore in Start, right-click, and choose “Uninstall.”

In the latter case, you will be prompted to inform you that the app, any installed Android apps, and WSA will all be uninstalled.

Warning: If you choose to uninstall the Windows Subsystem for Android, there are no warnings: the Amazon Appstore and any Android apps you installed will all be uninstalled.

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