Microsoft unveiled Windows 11 as expected, and we knew most of what was coming thanks to the recent leak of a working preview build of the OS. There’s the new start menu, revamped Microsoft Store, and so on. One thing we did not expect was Microsoft’s decision to partner with Amazon and Intel to put Android apps on Windows. It’s a page right out of the Chrome OS and macOS playbooks.
Amazon launched its app store back in the early days of Android when the Play Store (née Android Market) was rife with junk. At the time, Amazon’s pledge to curate an app store sounded like a good deal. However, most developers treated the Amazon Appstore as an afterthought, and it never got most of the apps that are available today on the Play Store. However, it does have all the basics to install on Amazon’s Fire tablets. Now, Windows 11 users will be able to do the same.
Microsoft says Amazon’s catalog of Android apps will be available in the Microsoft Store right alongside native Windows apps and Win32 apps. Microsoft showed off the TikTok app in Windows 11, which behaves like a regular windowed app that can participate in all the new window management features of Windows. The store also showed listings for other popular apps like Ring and Uber.
Details were scarce during the event, so it’s not clear if this will be the full Amazon Appstore ported over to Windows. If so, that’s a huge amount of software, some of which has no Windows or web equivalent. Microsoft is partnering with Intel to use its Intel Bridge technology to make this a reality, so you’ll probably need specific Intel CPUs to enable this feature.
This move follows in the footsteps of both Google and Apple. In an effort to make up for Chrome’s lack of software, Google rolled out the Play Store to all Chromebooks a few years ago. Apple did something similar when it rolled out the ARM-based M1 chip. New Macs with the M1 can run iOS apps natively, giving users access to the wealth of software in the App Store. It’s uncertain if the Intel-based Android functionality will be a gamechanger for Windows or just more half measures.