How to get started with the Windows Subsystem for Android in Windows 11

1 month ago 18
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Microsoft delivers the archetypal mentation of 1 of its cardinal Windows 11 features. We instrumentality a archetypal look astatine the WSA.

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Image: Shutterstock/GaudiLab

When Microsoft unveiled Windows 11, it promised a caller acceptable of tools developed successful conjunction with Intel and Amazon that would let Android applications to tally connected Windows devices. The Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) would usage the aforesaid virtualization technologies arsenic Windows' Linux tooling, allowing Android apps to tally connected the Windows desktop, portion translating ARM binaries to x86 and x64 wherever necessary. Apps would load from the Amazon Appstore via links to Windows' ain Microsoft Store.

Development of the diagnostic wasn't rather arsenic accelerated arsenic Microsoft expected, and the Android tools and Amazon Appstore didn't marque it to the October 5 launch. But it turns retired they weren't that acold behind, with a preview merchandise arriving this week for Windows Insiders connected the Beta Channel. As Dev builds travel from a antithetic improvement branch, they're presently inactive Android-less but should get enactment comparatively soon.

Getting started: Installing the Amazon Appstore

So however does the preview signifier up? Initially it's for users with Beta Channel Windows 11 devices acceptable to a US region, and with US Amazon.com accounts. Installing the Amazon Appstore from the Windows Store sets up the Android situation on with its ain settings app. This tin instrumentality a small while, downloading the tools and configuring the due virtual environment.

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Installing WSA for the archetypal time

I've acceptable it up connected 3 machines truthful far: a Xeon-E desktop workstation, an i7 Surface Pro 7 and a first-generation Surface Pro X with Microsoft's Qualcomm-based SQ1. Setup for each 3 was similar, with download and instal taking astir the aforesaid clip connected each 3 devices. The workstation has been utilized arsenic an Android improvement system, truthful it has the due SDKs and instrumentality drivers for utilizing Windows arsenic an exertion improvement target. Microsoft has indicated that WSA is supported connected Intel, AMD and Qualcomm processors.

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The WSA settings app successful Windows: Use this to find web settings for usage with Android tools

You'll find the archetypal acceptable of apps successful the Amazon Appstore comparatively limited, with lone 50 oregon truthful successful this preview release. That does see a premix of productivity tools with acquainted Android games. There are immoderate issues with the store astatine present; it's incapable to amusement each the disposable apps. Some are free, immoderate incorporate in-app purchases, portion others are paid. There is enactment for Amazon's ain coins, utilized to wage for in-app purchases astatine a discount, overmuch similar the store connected Amazon's Fire devices. To spot what's been installed, click connected the "Hello <Your Name>" nexus astatine the apical of the paper connected the near of the Appstore. It's not peculiarly evident however to bash this astatine archetypal if you're unfamiliar with Amazon's Fire devices and took immoderate clicking astir to find!

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The Android Kindle app moving connected Windows

It's wide that the Store is presently a elemental larboard of the Fire Store, with basal integration with the Microsoft Store. You tin hunt for, accidental Kindle, successful the Microsoft Store, with the resulting instal nexus taking you to the Amazon Appstore. However, there's presently nary mode for the Microsoft Store to amusement that an app is already installed connected your PC, a spread that needs to beryllium fixed if we're to usage the Microsoft Store arsenic our main hunt instrumentality for Android apps. Installed Android apps don't amusement up successful your Library, either, making it hard to physique a accordant instal crossed aggregate PCs utilizing the aforesaid Microsoft account.

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Finding and installing the Kindle app successful the Microsoft Store

How good does it perform?

Performance is good. I sideloaded connected the acquainted Geekbench tools, and ran them connected some my desktop workstation and connected my Surface Pro X. The Xeon-E desktop workstation clocked up a azygous halfway Android x86 people of 903 and a multicore people of 5001. For comparison, Windows autochthonal show was 973 and 5706, little than an 8% quality successful single-core show crossed the 2 platforms.

SEE: Windows 11: Tips connected installation, information and much (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Similarly, our trial connected the 16GB Pro X came successful astatine 729 and 2894 for Android Aarch64, with Windows ARM autochthonal show 737 and 2969. That's a overmuch person performance, with conscionable 1% quality successful azygous halfway and 2% for multicore. It's wide that moving autochthonal binary Android apps connected your devices won't impact performance, with the Krypton Hyper-V hypervisor having precise small overhead.

(For examination a two-year-old Samsung Note 10+ scored 789 and 2202. It mightiness not beryllium this year's flagship, but it's inactive a well-regarded Android instrumentality giving a tenable show benchmark of our trial WSA systems.)

If determination are immoderate complaints truthful acold it's the determination restrictions and constricted enactment successful the Amazon Appstore. There are alternatives, utilizing modular Android techniques to sideload apps (and alternate app stores) onto WSA. That's due to the fact that WSA is astatine bosom a afloat AOSP Android 11 virtual machine, with each that entails. It whitethorn not person the Google Play services, but a amazingly ample fig of apps marque minimal usage of it.

Going beyond the Amazon Appstore: Sideloading

I was capable to usage Android developer tools similar adb to entree the virtual instrumentality and sideload applications without going done the Amazon Appstore. That included installing alternate stores, arsenic good arsenic applications similar Microsoft's Android launcher.

SEE: Android 12 cheat sheet: Everything you request to cognize (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

You'll archetypal request to usage the WSA settings app (which annoyingly isn't portion of Windows 11's Settings) to crook connected developer mode. Once that's enabled you tin usage Android's adb command-line instrumentality to link to the WSA VM utilizing the web code you'll find successful settings. Once connected, it's casual capable to sideload utilizing the adb instal bid from Android apk files you've downloaded to Windows.

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Sideloaded apps tally arsenic good arsenic those from the Amazon Appstore: Here we're utilizing Apple Music

There's nary nonstop entree to WSA's Android record strategy from Windows extracurricular of tools similar adb, which is simply a pity. Windows' WSL Linux tooling lets you entree its virtual disk thrust from Windows Explorer successful Windows 11, and it would beryllium bully to get thing akin for WSA. Hopefully that's connected the WSA roadmap, arsenic if WSA is going to assistance capable elements of the Windows exertion gap, deeper integration betwixt the 2 environments volition beryllium essential.

Microsoft has done an absorbing occupation with WSA. Android apps tally seamlessly alongside their Windows compatriots, with enactment for Windows ain model management. They're successful the Windows 11 commencement paper too, making it a genuinely cross-environment launcher for Windows, Android and Linux. Power users volition rapidly get past the limitations of the Amazon Appstore, but it should beryllium capable for astir users—at slightest erstwhile it has much than 50 oregon truthful apps.

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Windows, Android and Linux applications each moving side-by-side

Where WSA has initially shown the astir committedness is connected ultra-portable ARM-powered Windows devices similar the Surface Pro X. Mixing Windows and Android tablet applications connected a two-in-one mobile instrumentality makes consciousness and allows businesses to make applications erstwhile and past present to Android telephone oregon Windows tablet.

This archetypal merchandise of WSA is precise overmuch a archetypal pass. But it's 1 that works retired of the box, with astir of the features needed to marque it successful. It'll instrumentality clip to reply the lingering questions astir the intended assemblage and its inferior beyond archetypal novelty. But for now, it's good worthy installing and moving Android apps wrong Windows. There's not overmuch to lose, and plentifulness to gain.

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