Windows 11 will have built-in support for Android apps

Windows 11 Android apps
(Image credit: Microsoft)

During its Windows 11 event on Thursday, Microsoft announced that the next version of Windows and its new Microsoft Store will have built-in support for Android apps. They'll run natively in Windows 11 and be available through the Microsoft Store thanks to a partnership with Amazon's Android app store.

"They can be integrated into Start. They can be integrated into your taskbar. They're discoverable through the Microsoft store using the Amazon app store," said Microsoft's chief product officer Panos Panay. A video showed Android apps being opened and closed and snapped to portions of the screen just like any other Windows application.

Panay said that the Android apps run on Windows thanks to "Intel Bridge" technology. In a press release, Intel describes Bridge as "a runtime post-compiler that enables applications to run natively on x86-based devices, including running those applications on Windows." If your eyes glazed over as soon as you saw the word "runtime," the gist is that Bridge translates Android app code to code your PC can understand without you or the app developer having to do anything.

This isn't Microsoft's first stab at getting Android apps onto PCs—it tried to offer developers a way to rework their apps for Windows 10, but that implementation never took off. Native OS support is certainly better for both developers and users, and gives Windows 11 a feature comparable to Apple's new M1 laptops that can run both Mac OS and iOS apps. 

The partnership with Amazon is an interesting solution, though, and implies Google either didn't want to integrate its own Android store into Windows 11, or Microsoft didn't want to work directly with Google. The Amazon app store offers a smaller subset of apps than Google, though it'll still have most of the common apps that people use day-to-day.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).