Windows Subsystem for Android Arrives in the Microsoft Store

Posted on September 3, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Windows 11 with 23 Comments

You can now (sort of) download the Windows Subsystem for Android, assuming you meet the requirements and enjoy disappointment.

As you must know, the Windows Subsystem for Android will enable Windows 11’s most eagerly-awaited new feature, Android app compatibility, and the related Amazon Appstore for Android store-within-a-store. Microsoft announced this new feature at the Windows 11 reveal back in June, but it failed to mention that it wouldn’t even ship it this year, let alone when Windows 11 first ships to the public on October 5. Instead, it will arrive later in 2022, either as a standalone cumulative update or, less likely, as part of Windows 11 2.0 in October 2022.

News of the Windows Subsystem for Android arrived, as these things do so often via the Walking Cat on Twitter, who pointed the world to its Microsoft Store listing on the web. And, go figure, there is actually some interesting news tied to this leak, the first being that the Windows Subsystem for Android will be delivered via the Store. Its predecessor, the Windows Subsystem for Linux, is delivered via the Windows Features control panel.

But that’s not all: the Windows Subsystem for Android will require 8 GB of RAM, double the minimum requirement for Windows 11 itself, but Microsoft recommends 16 GB of RAM or more. It also requires Windows 11, of course—or, as the Store listing puts it, “Windows 10 version 22000.0 or higher,” and I love that it leaves out the superfluous comma after “Windows 10” that Microsoft usually adds. It will run natively on x64 (64-bit Intel-style) or ARM64 PCs.

But my favorite bit about the Store listing is the description, which reads: “Microsoft Confidential – For testing purposes – Please do not take screenshots or communicate about the content.” Suffice to say, I didn’t take that warning seriously at all, but in my defense, it’s probably just placeholder text from when Microsoft employees were testing this internally.

Speaking of which, yes, you can install it, at least on the Dev channel build I’m currently using. But when you run the app, you get a blank, non-interactive window. Because it’s obviously not ready yet. No harm, no foul.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Windows Subsystem for Android Arrives in the Microsoft Store”

  1. Brent Morris

    To answer your comment/question on today's (9/3/2021) show. No install bottom option from a Win10 PRO (ARM) system.....but it is in the Win10 store.

  2. blue77star

    What is the benefit of having this?

    • ruivo

      Microsoft realised that UWP/PWA will never achieve critical mass, so this is their way of (finally) leveraging some of the effort they put on mobile.

      Besides, when talking about adding features that don't impact stability or resources, the "why" is only relevant to MS accountants :-)

    • MikeCerm

      Benefits will be different for everyone. Maybe you want to control your smart home stuff, but your smart bulbs and switches only work with Android/iOS. Maybe you have to use a 2FA for work, and the authenticator app you need is Android/iOS only. Maybe there's a mobile game you want to play, but you'd rather play on your PC than on a tiny phone screen. Not everyone will want to do all of these things, but some people might find a use. Phones and PCs are just computers, and it's not crazy to think that some people might want their big computer to be capable of doing the things that their small computer can do.

    • hrlngrv

      Running phone apps on a PC. Doesn't everyone want to do that? Isn't that how UWP replaced all the Win32 software which had accumulated over 3 decades?


      /s

    • navarac

      None at all. Just use your phone. There aren't many compelling Android apps anyway. It is a case of MSFT grabbing stuff to divert users to their OS. Same as WSL I reckon.

    • lvthunder

      To run apps that are on Android that don't have Windows versions.

  3. Truffles

    Looking ahead a few years, this represents an existential problem for devs who have traditionally focused on the Windows ecosystem. Pricing in the android ecosystem is very different to pricing in Windows, and each choice they face will lose them money. It'll be interesting to see how Windows shops plan for that future.

    • MikeCerm

      Not really. This just is a chance for mobile devs to reach hundreds of millions of new customers. If you develop traditional Windows applications, you have already been disrupted by shift to mobile and web apps. If you're still developing desktop-class apps, it's because there are needs that mobile and web apps don't address, and that will always be the case. Photoshop isn't going to lose customers if Snapseed comes to Windows (which it won't because Google acquired it years ago). A mobile app will never have all the features that Photoshop has. The people who don't need all those features are already using something else, whether it's a mobile app or cheaper desktop app like Paint.net or Gimp.

  4. feek

    Hmm, last night this mentioned Xbox One as an option in the system requirements. It no longer has that listed.

  5. Pbike908

    16 GB RAM to run Android apps? Geez...

    • MikeCerm

      Think about it. The lowest of low-end Android phones have 4GB of RAM these days, and can barely keep one or two apps in memory without triggering reloads constantly when switching apps. You really need 6GB of memory for a decent experience, and flagship phones come with 8GB or more. Add these numbers to what is needed for Windows, and there you go. You won't need 16GB, but you will if you want to run more than one or two apps at a time.

    • lvthunder

      Virtualization always requires more RAM then native.

      • alissa914

        I can run Windows 11 on a Mac M1 with 8GB of RAM. Requiring 16GB of RAM reminds me of how I felt when I saw the pricing of the Surface Duo for the first time. Too high

      • solomonrex

        Yes, virtualization can be inefficient, except on ARM-based Macs. One wonders, also, why the Quallcomm devices can't easily run this in a more efficient manner. Couldn't this have been rolled out there, first, to enhance the somewhat disappointing value of the ARM-based Windows devices? Notably, also, Chromebooks do not need those specs to run Android apps, x86 based or not, which are typically not burdensome, large apps to begin with.


        Android is open source software and MS obvs has the source code to Windows 11. It should be possible to make it work a bit better with laptop class hardware - while I admit most Android phones have these specs now, the Fire tablets this software was built for are far from robust.


        I understand that this is a side project for MS and not important, but those specs are absolutely eye-popping for running Kindle, Spotify and mobile Firefox.

        • MikeCerm

          Virtualization is no more efficient on ARM-based Macs than on anything else. I think you're confusing virtualization and emulation. Rosetta is a very efficient emulation layer that allows x86 apps to run on ARM. ARM-based Macs don't use virtualization or emulation when running mobile apps, they run natively, or at least as natively as UWP apps do on Windows. It's not a mystery why Qualcomm devices can't run Android apps more efficiently, it's because Microsoft still hasn't released their compatibility layer for Android apps. Just because Qualcomm uses the ARM instruction set doesn't mean that it knows how to run Android apps; that's what the operating system is for. When Android compatibility for Windows 11 is done, Qualcomm devices will run Android apps compiled for ARM, and x86 devices will run Android apps compiled for x86, and there shouldn't be much difference between the two.


          The reason that Chromebooks don't require 8GB of RAM to run Android apps is because Chrome OS is much lighter than Windows. Chrome OS lacks the ability to run Windows apps. If you took out the parts of Windows that aren't required to run Edge, you'd have a much lower system requirements. That's what Chrome OS is. Also, 4GB isn't really enough to run Chrome OS and Android apps well. You get a lot of page reloads and stuff, like a mobile browser. Chrome OS doesn't use swap space, it just unloads everything from the background when it runs low on memory. If you're running Android apps and multitasking, you really need 8GB, even on Chrome OS. And Mac OS doesn't even ship systems with less than 8GB, so that's the minimum there as well.


          • davidjhupp

            Many Android apps are actually only compiled for ARM and don’t have x86-native binaries. The Java stuff is architecture independent, and ARM Windows can run the ARM Android apps without emulation, but the x64 version of Windows will use an Intel-branded emulation/translation layer for running ARM Android apps. I don’t know the technical details offhand, but from a user standpoint it’ll work conceptually similarly to Rosetta on macOS.

  6. slbailey1

    So, because of the requirements I cannot run Windows subsystem for Android on my Surface Go 2?

  7. lukec

    Loving the snarky comments left on the Microsoft store. Good job people

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