The launch date of Windows’ next big version has already been announced. While it’s not as big an upgrade as Windows 10, Microsoft’s Surface changes (pun intended) are enough to pique people’s curiosities. Of course, there are underlying changes as well, but at least one major advertised feature of Windows 11 won’t be available at launch time. Microsoft is pushing back the ability to run Android apps directly on Windows 11 PCs, with the final feature release slate probably sometime in mid-2022.
Of course, there are already various ways to run Android apps on Windows 10 today, ranging from virtualization technologies like BlueStacks to OEM-specific integrations like those from Samsung. They are, of course, all indirect methods that require more than just an extra layer between Windows and Android. Microsoft promised a seemingly native experience, but early Windows 11 adopters won’t be able to experience that immediately.
In its launch date announcement for Windows 11, Microsoft casually mentioned that Android apps integration would “start with a preview for Windows Insiders over the coming months.” Given the normal timeframe for feature testing, that definitely won’t arrive in time for the big October 5th date. Earliest would be sometime in 2022, perhaps mid-2022, in time for the general rollout of Windows 11 for all eligible users.
Microsoft doesn’t give any explanation for the delay, but it’s not hard to imagine running into some technical issues that it needs to resolve together with Amazon and Intel. Running Android apps “directly” on Windows 11 will still need some layers of software that could affect performance. There’s also the consideration that Amazon’s implementation won’t have direct access to Google Play Store apps and services, which could affect the functionality of apps that rely on those.
The delay might be for the best since most Windows PCs won’t be getting the Windows 11 upgrade immediately anyway. That October 5th launch date only marks the start of a phased and measured rollout, so the majority of users will still have to wait next year to get their turn. By then, Microsoft, Amazon, and Intel will have hopefully ironed out the kinks to provide an Android on Windows experience that Google and Samsung would be jealous of.