Microsoft announced Windows 11 last week, and the biggest news isn’t a new version of Windows. We all know that’s coming, but what’s surprising is that Microsoft will allow Android apps to run on Windows 11. They purposely saved this part of the announcement towards the end of the event. Much like Apple’s “one more thing.” The key takeaway is that Windows 11 will come with an Amazon Marketplace to download and install Android apps.
Microsoft has not detailed exactly how Android apps are running in Windows 11. Only have press news referring to Intel’s Bridge technology to help Microsoft realize the ability to run Android apps with Windows 11. It should also be noted that running Android apps is not limited to Intel; AMD also supports it. It will be very interesting to find how if Windows 11 ARM supports the Android app. In theory, it should, but we have not heard any or seen any evidence of that.
What it means
Obviously, the choice of partnering with Amazon instead of Google is deliberate. Given Google created Android OS, Microsoft can run the app that bypasses the android OS platform entirely suggests they still have the ambition to pursue the mobile platform. And they see Google as their direct competitor in this market.
If Microsoft can make Android apps running seamlessly inside Windows 11, this opens the door for it to make a comeback to your phone. Imagine a distant future where your phone runs Windows, and all your apps are just there regardless if it’s a desktop or mobile device running on the palm of your hand.
We know that the Android app in Windows 11 isn’t running under some traditional emulator that runs Android. Because we have emulator apps that allow the user to run Android apps ever since the inception of Android, what Microsoft is offering here has to be something better than that, something more ‘native.’ Much like how Microsoft was able to bring Linux kernel in WSL, the same pattern can be applied with Android. The biggest challenge will be on the CPU instruction set ARM vs x86. As of today, Microsoft has announced ARM64EC new ways to build ‘native’ ARM apps.
Now combine this with all the groundwork Microsoft has laid with WSL/WSL2 with Windows 10. The future of Windows is really a meta OS where you can run any app, just not Apple’s. Windows has a Linux kernel running inside each Windows 10 if WSL is enabled. Microsoft is making improvements to its WSL platform for each release of Windows 10. Just recently, Microsoft introduced WSLg, where you can now add GUI to your Windows Subsystem for Linux.
Where does this take us from here? Microsoft definitely sees what Apple’s M1 enabled them to do with their ecosystem. The ability to run Android apps on Windows 11 is a part of the answerback. But I think this can be a trojan horse whose main goal is to deaminate the Operating System market once and for all.