Windows Subsystem for Android™️ (2023)

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Windows Subsystem for Android™️ enables your Windows 11 device to run Android applications that are available in the Amazon Appstore. Android is a trademark of Google LLC. If you're a developer interested in targeting Windows desktop devices and optimizing for the Windows operating system, this guide is for you.

To make your Android app available on Windows 11 devices, you must:

For more information or support:

This guide can help you test and debug your Android app on Windows:

  • Set up your development environment, including prerequisites, installing the Amazon Appstore, and using the Settings app.
  • Handle input compatibility considerations for Windows devices, such as: keyboard input, mouse input, and window management and resizing.
  • Test and debug your app on a Windows 11 device.
  • Troubleshoot and find answers.

Developer GitHub

Want to learn more about Windows Subsystem for Android roadmap, discuss developer issues and file bugs or feature requests with the subsystem team? Visit the Windows Subsystem for Android Developers GitHub.

Preview Program

The Windows Subsystem for Android™️ Preview Program allows users to receive early-preview builds of the Windows Subsystem for Android™ and Amazon Appstore on Windows. For more details, visit the Preview Program page.

Set up your development environment

To test your Android app in the Windows desktop environment, a bit of set up will be required.

Prerequisites

Windows Subsystem for Android is available on Windows 11. Your device must meet specific requirements: Device requirements.

Install the Amazon Appstore

The Microsoft Store will automatically install Windows Subsystem for Android silently in the background when either of the two following user actions are taken:

  1. Install the Amazon Appstore from the Microsoft Store. Selecting Get will begin the installation of the app.
  2. Install an Android app from the Microsoft Store for the first time, which will also install the Amazon Appstore.

The Amazon Appstore and the Windows Subsystem for Android Settings app will then appear in the Windows 11 Start menu and be available on search, offering a catalogue of Android apps.

(Video) TESTED: Android Apps on Windows 11!

Windows Subsystem for Android™️ (1)

Note

The Amazon Appstore on Windows (a requirement for running Android apps on Windows 11) is available in select regions.

Windows Subsystem for Android™️ Settings app

To access the Windows Subsystem for Android Settings app, go to: Start > All Apps > Windows Subsystem for Android™️ Settings. Learn more about specific settings app features: Manage settings for mobile apps on Windows.

Windows Subsystem for Android™️ (2)

Input compatibility considerations for Windows devices

There are a few unique input behaviors to consider that will likely require updates to your Android app code, designed for handheld devices, to be compatible when running on a Windows desktop device via the Amazon Appstore.

Keyboard input

For text input fields handled by an on-screen virtual keyboard input method (or IME), such as EditText, apps should behave as expected. (EditText class in the Android docs).

For keystrokes that cannot be anticipated by the framework, apps will need to handle the behavior themselves. If this is already implemented in-app, no extra work is required.

As an example, some games may already support movement facilitated via keyboard, through w a s d keys, alongside touch input.

The following are keyboard inputs that developers should consider code updates for when building for Windows 11 devices:

  • Enter Key
  • Arrow-key and Tab-key Navigation
  • Change Selected Item Highlight Color
  • Ctrl-based Shortcuts

Learn more about how to optimize for these keyboard input scenarios on desktop devices by following the Android documentation:

(Video) How to Install the Windows Subsystem for Android in Windows 11 in Any Region (UPDATED)

Mouse input

Developers should consider updating code for the following mouse inputs when building for Windows devices:

  • Right Click
  • Tooltips / Hover Text
  • Hover Effects
  • Mouse Scroll Wheel Action
  • Drag and Drop

Mouse input, similar to keyboard input, must follow the official Android app guidelines. This means using the InputDevice class paired with the SOURCE_MOUSE constant. Learn more about how to optimize for these mouse input scenarios on desktop devices by following the Android documentation:

Window management and resizing

Unlike traditional mobile form factors, Android apps running on Windows 11 can be freely resized, should be responsive in their resizing, and can be snapped using Windows actions/gestures.

Minimum screen requirement

Windows 11 enforces a minimum screen requirement of 720p resolution (1280x720) with a >9” screen.

Letter & pillar boxing

When the aspect ratio of a window size does not align between the device screen sizes that window is being displayed on, the result may be Letterboxing (the window is wider than it is high, or horizontally longer) or Pillarboxing (the window is more narrow than it is wide, or vertically longer). The result is bars being placed on the sides of the window in order to center it. These bars may be light- or dark-themed depending on the system settings selected. This will only occur as necessary when the Android app is snapped or maximized, allowing Android apps to take advantage of the rich snapping features in Windows and integrate into the windowing model.

Windows Subsystem for Android™️ (3)

Additional resizing considerations

The following should also be considered when updating an Android app to run on a Windows 11 device with respect to window management and resizing:

  • Initial launch size
  • Window dimensions
    • Content bounds
    • Free form resizing
  • Screen Orientation

Learn more about how to optimize for window resizing scenarios on desktop devices by following the Window Management guide in the Android docs.

Test and debug

To test and debug your app on a Windows 11 device using the Windows Subsystem for Android the following set up steps are required.

Enable developer mode in Windows Settings

You must first enable developer mode in Windows Settings. There are three ways to enable developer mode:

  • Open the Windows Subsystem for Android Settings app. Once open, enable Developer Mode.
  • Search for “Developer Settings” in Windows search.
  • Navigate to Settings > Privacy and Security > For developers > Developer mode.

Connect to the Windows Subsystem for Android for debugging

To connect to the Windows Subsystem for Android VM for debugging:

  1. Launch an Android app that was installed using the Amazon Appstore.

    (Video) Windows10 安装 Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) 安卓子系统

  2. You can connect using adb connect with the following command (you must have adb installed):

    adb connect 127.0.0.1:58526

Connect to a test device

To connect to a test device (with Windows Subsystem for Android installed) on the same network from Windows/Mac:

  1. On the test device (where Windows Subsystem for Android is installed) open a PowerShell window and identify the IP address of the test device by running the command:

    ipconfig
  2. Using the debugging device terminal where Android Studio and the Android SDK is installed (Mac/Windows), enter the command:

    adb connect <TEST DEVICE IP ADDRESS>:58526

The <TEST DEVICE IP ADDRESS> can be found in the output of "ipconfig" from the test device. You can also deploy and debug apps from Android Studio.

To use Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to connect your development workstation directly to your Android device so you can install packages and evaluate changes, see Android Debug Bridge in the Android Open Source Project docs.

Debug your app

While apps should be installed using the Amazon Appstore, debugging an Android app on a Windows device is possible using an APK (Android application package) and adb (Android Debug Bridge).

To debug an APK using adb:

  1. Follow the steps to connect to the Windows Subsystem for Android VM above.

  2. Install the APK using the adb install command: adb install app-debug.apk

    Expected Output:

    Performing Streamed InstallSuccess
  3. A successful “app installed” notification will appear in the Windows notification menu and the app will launch once selected.

    (Video) أفضل طريقة لتثبيت تطبيقات الأندرويد على ويندوز 11 windows subsystem for Android

Building Universal APKs

Windows Subsystem for Android utilizes Intel Bridge Technology to emulate Arm applications on x86 based processors. Arm applications will run on Arm based processors natively. The emulation layer will induce a performance overhead – for optimal performance, submit your application for both the x86-64 and Arm64 architectures.

VM lifecycle considerations

Windows Subsystem for Android utilizes a virtual machine (VM) which provides compatibility with the AOSP framework and devices like keyboards, mice, touch, pen, etc.

There are three possible states for the VM running apps with Windows Subsystem for Android:

  1. Running
  2. Lightweight Doze: Activated after no app activity for 3 minutes. Deactivated by user activity or an app notification.
  3. Not Running: Activated after no app activity for 7 minutes.

Transitions between these states are triggered by user activity, such as launching or interaction with the Android app or an app notification. Android apps are paused and then stopped when their window is minimized.

Windows Subsystem for Android™️ (4)

VM Properties

The properties for the Windows Subsystem for Android VM are listed below. Hardcoding these values is not recommended as that could cause future incompatibilities.

PropertyValue
Build.MANUFACTURERMicrosoft Corporation
Build.MODELSubsystem for Android(TM)
Build.VERSION.SDK_INT32
Build.BOARDwindows

Security

Windows Subsystem for Android performs per-file encryption that is software-based.

Both Windows kernel-mode drivers and Windows applications running at medium integrity level (IL) can inspect arbitrary Android containers and Android app memory. There are no plans to add detection for cheats/macro/bot/suspicious behaviors detection in the short-term.

Developers querying getSecurityLevel will get SECURITY_LEVEL_SW_SECURE_CRYPTO. Learn more about getSecurityLevel in the Android API Reference guide.

Uninstalling Windows Subsystem for Android

You can uninstall the Windows Subsystem for Android, but note that all associated apps will also be uninstalled.

  • Uninstalling the Amazon Appstore will uninstall the Windows Subsystem for Android and all other Android apps.
  • Uninstalling an Amazon Appstore app will only uninstall the app (same behavior as Windows apps).
  • Uninstalling the Windows Subsystem for Android will uninstall the Amazon Appstore and all Android apps.

Troubleshooting issues

If you encounter issues specific to the Amazon Appstore on Windows, try the following troubleshooting steps:

  1. Select Windows search from the Windows task bar.
  2. Search for “Amazon Appstore” and right-click on the Amazon Appstore icon.
  3. Select “App Settings” in the dropdown options.
  4. Select “Storage and Cache” and click both “Clear Storage” and “Clear cache”.
  5. Go back and select “Force Stop”.
  6. Close the Amazon Appstore Settings window.
  7. Relaunch the Amazon Appstore.

For further troubleshooting steps relating to the Windows Subsystem for Android Settings app or to leave feedback using Feedback Hub, see Troubleshooting and FAQ for mobile apps on Windows.

(Video) How to setup Android Subsystem on Windows 11 | NEW GUIDE

For any other developer questions and support, use the .

Additional resources

  • Apps from the Amazon Appstore
  • Accessibility on Windows Subsystem for Android

FAQs

What does Windows Subsystem for Android do? ›

Windows Subsystem for Android™️ enables your Windows 11 device to run Android applications that are available in the Amazon Appstore. Android is a trademark of Google LLC. If you're a developer interested in targeting Windows desktop devices and optimizing for the Windows operating system, this guide is for you.

Is Windows Subsystem for Android safe? ›

Installing the Windows Subsystem for Android

To install WSA, we'll use the Microsoft Store Generation Project website. It retrieves packages from the Microsoft server, the same server that Microsoft Store uses to install apps on your Windows PC. Hence, it's safe to use.

Is WSA better than BlueStacks? ›

Is BlueStacks better than Windows Subsystem for Android? It depends on your use case. If you want to play Android games, it's better to keep using BlueStacks or other Android emulators instead of WSA.

What can you use WSA for? ›

You can install the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) to run Android apps on Windows 11 using the Microsoft Store or PowerShell. Here's how. UPDATED 1/3/2023: On Windows 11, you can install Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) on your computer to add support to run Android apps from the Amazon Appstore (or sideload).

Why would I use WSL? ›

Why would I use WSL rather than Linux in a VM? WSL requires fewer resources (CPU, memory, and storage) than a full virtual machine. WSL also allows you to run Linux command-line tools and apps alongside your Windows command-line, desktop and store apps, and to access your Windows files from within Linux.

Is it OK to delete system apps? ›

You can uninstall apps you've installed on your phone. If you remove an app you paid for, you can reinstall it later without buying it again. You can also disable system apps that came with your phone. Important: You're using an older Android version.

Can WSA run on Windows 10? ›

xmine64 on Mar 6, 2022

You're wrong, WSL2 only requires Windows Hypervisor that's available on Windows 10, WSL2 itself isn't part of Windows can be installed and upgraded separately.

Is there a better Android emulator than BlueStacks? ›

Nox App Player

It's no wonder that Nox is the best Android emulator because it's the only one that can run your favorite Android games on real hardware. It runs on Android Nougat 7.0 and features the Material UI, but root access is one aspect where Nox Player completely outperforms Bluestacks.

Is it worth using WSL? ›

We recommend that you use WSL 2 as it offers faster performance and 100% system call compatibility. However, there are a few specific scenarios where you might prefer using WSL 1. Consider using WSL 1 if: Your project files must be stored in the Windows file system.

Does anyone use WSL? ›

WSL is great tool for developers, engineers, students, and *NIX/Linux geeks (or anyone aspiring to become one) who want to run Linux tools on Windows. Most of the things you can do with WSL are going to be related to programming, the console, sysadmin, automation, AI/data science, and other IT tasks.

Is enabling WSL safe? ›

The main security risk identified here is credentials theft or theft of other sensitive data processed by Linux applications running inside WSL. An additional consideration is the security programs that may be active in the machine.

What is bloatware in Android? ›

Bloatware -- the term for unwanted pre-installed software on a computer or device -- has been around since the dawn of PCs. Bloatware started with OEMs installing software by default on their computers to both make money and provide consumers with additional software they might want.

What happens if you disable system apps? ›

Disabling an app will remove it from the apps screen and stop it from running in the background. Disabled apps will no longer receive updates. Depending on where you bought your device, different apps may be preinstalled.

What does a suspicious app look like? ›

Most fake apps have very poor visual because hackers don't put too much effort into the design. All they want is for you to download the app so they can get access to your data. Bad visuals include strange fonts, oversize letters, and poor-quality images.

How much RAM is allocated to WSL? ›

On machines running build 20175 or higher, RAM is limited to either 50% of your total memory or 8GB, whichever happens to be smaller. On builds older than 20175, WSL could consume up to 80% of your host RAM.

Is WSL as good as dual boot? ›

WSL vs Dual Booting

Dual Booting means installing multiple operating systems on a single computer, and being able to choose which one to boot. This means that you CANNOT run both the OS at the same time. But if you use WSL, you can use both the OS simultaneously without the need to switch the OS.

How many GB is WSL? ›

By default each VHD file used by WSL 2 is initially allocated a 1TB maximum amount of disk space (prior to WSL release 0.58.0 this default was set to a 512GB max and 256GB max prior to that).

Is Android emulating illegal? ›

Emulators are 100% legal, as is the process of downloading them. They are no different to other programs you might download such as word processing or music player software. Downloading and uploading ROMs is illegal, however, so make sure you use your own game files.

Which is the No 1 Android emulator? ›

1. BlueStacks. BlueStacks is undoubtedly one of the best Android emulators that you can find on Windows. It not only covers gaming but as a general user, if you want to enjoy Android apps on Windows PC then BlueStacks is a great emulator at your disposal.

Can Windows 11 run Android apps? ›

Any Android app installed on Windows 11 will show up as a normal program you can directly run from the Start menu. If you don't have access to the store, which you won't if you sideloaded the Subsystem, you will have to download the APKs and install them via PowerShell manually.

What version of Android is WSA? ›

Microsoft has updated Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) to Android 13. The update is available for Windows Subsystem for Android on Windows 11 to members of the Windows Subsystem for Android Preview Program. Aside from Android 13, the latest Windows Subsystem for Android update (2211.40000.

Is BlueStacks approved by Google? ›

Nowadays people have this question that is BlueStacks Safe for Your Google Account well Yes, BlueStacks poses no risk whatsoever when linking your Google account to it. In fact, BlueStacks is, quite frankly, an Android emulator that is faithful to the source material.

Can BlueStacks run all Android apps? ›

While you can use BlueStacks to run almost any Android app (it's compatible with about 97% of the apps in the Google Play Store), the app has found its largest audience with Android users who want to play mobile games on their desktop computer.

Can I run Windows 10 on a mobile phone? ›

Windows Phone 8.1 smartphones are eligible for upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile, pursuant to manufacturer and carrier support. Some features vary depending on hardware compatibility. Windows 10 Mobile was designed for use on smartphones and phablets running on 32-bit ARM processor architectures.

Can I make a bootable Windows 10 USB on Android phone? ›

It won't work on Android. The most you can do is downloading the ISO file on the phone, but still, you would require a Windows PC to create a bootable media.

Can Windows 11 run Google Play apps? ›

You can natively run Android apps on Windows 11 via Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA); however, it has its limitations. The new OS only natively supports Amazon's Appstore and not Google Play Store. And while sideloading Android apps is an option, anything that requires Google Play Services will not work.

How do I activate WSA? ›

Install WSL command

You can now install everything you need to run WSL with a single command. Open PowerShell or Windows Command Prompt in administrator mode by right-clicking and selecting "Run as administrator", enter the wsl --install command, then restart your machine.

Is it safe to enable Windows Subsystem for Linux? ›

WSL is as secure as any other program running in your Windows user account. It's not suitable for isolating a Linux VM from your Windows host (in either direction); it is designed to simulate the experience of just running user-mode Linux binaries natively on Windows (which is what WSLv1 does).

Do I need Windows Subsystem for Linux update? ›

You must first enable the "Windows Subsystem for Linux" optional feature before installing any Linux distributions on Windows.

What is Android system intelligence and do I need it? ›

Android System Intelligence, through Private Compute Services, helps preserve your privacy with techniques like federated learning and analytics to analyze and improve the performance of features.

Is system update good for Android? ›

Phone software updates are essential for numerous reasons. They improve the phone's functionality and make it much more efficient. Updated phones do not usually experience compatibility issues with the latest software either, so you can download or use the latest versions of any application you like with ease.

Is WSL a security risk? ›

WSL vulnerabilities

The main difficulty with securing WSL is that it allows a user to execute both Linux and Windows commands on the same file system. This means that if a file is not readable from Linux it might still be readable from Windows and vice versa.

Is WSL risky? ›

Low risk. The Subsystem is not resource intensive and works very similar to having a docker instance running where the code is relatively contained. The big difference is that the subsystem can access files outside the Subsystem such as System32 files. It's useful for testing or SSH into another server.

Can I disable Windows Subsystem for Linux? ›

Remove Windows Subsystem for Linux components

Click on Apps. Click the Installed apps page on the right side. Select the Windows Subsystem for Linux item. Click the menu (three-dotted) button on the right and the Uninstall button.

What is Linux used for? ›

Linux is used in the following ways: Server OS for web servers, database servers, file servers, email servers and any other type of shared server. Designed to support high-volume and multithreading applications, Linux is well-suited for all types of server applications. Desktop OS for personal productivity computing.

Does WSL reduce performance? ›

File performance across the Windows and Linux operating systems is faster in WSL 1 than WSL 2, so if you are using Windows applications to access Linux files, you will currently achieve faster performance with WSL 1.

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