Microsoft is removing this little-known Windows 11 feature

Android mascot placed inside of a recycling bin.
(Image credit: Image generated by Microsoft Copilot (using Dall.E 3))

Microsoft is removing support for a little-known feature that allowed users to run Android apps on Windows 11 machines. The feature, dubbed the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA), effectively offered users native emulation of apps designed for Google's platform, though with the bizarre caveat that they be installed through the Amazon Appstore.

Microsoft's decision to sidestep the world's most popular Android app store in Google Play, instead bonding the WSA to Amazon's inferior marketplace, may have played a large part in its downfall.

Even if some Android enthusiasts on Windows machines did eventually find a way to sideload the Google Play Store into the WSA, that type of modification is something only a small number of users would be willing to do. As a result, it seems highly likely that the WSA simply never caught on with wider audiences.

The greatest no-show on Earth

Having launched in 2021, the Windows Subsystem for Android aimed to provide users with an easy way of running Android apps on Windows machines by default that wouldn't require the usage of third-party emulators like BlueStacks.

However, while many would have hoped this to eliminate the need for third-party emulation, the reality was never quite as simple. While WSA was able to offer a more "genuine" Android sandbox on PCs and laptops without the need for a virtual machine, it was almost certainly designed with programming and development in mind, and not meeting the needs of the average app store users.

Beyond the simple fact that most sane Android users would rather eat a bowl of their own brains than make use of the Amazon Appstore, WSA was fairly resource-heavy and not nearly signposted will enough for the average user to be aware of its presence.

Outlook

While it was a great idea in theory, the execution left a lot to be desired. Sadly, with Microsoft preparing to pull the plug on the feature from March 5, 2025 its highly unlikely that the feature will gain an incredible spike in popularity at any point in the near future.

Those already making use of the WSA will be able to continue doing so beyond the end of support, with the Amazon Appstore remaining open and available to Windows users for the foreseeable future. However, beyond the cutoff date, users will no longer be able to setup the WSA, effectively cutting the service off at the stem.

Until then, Windows users can enjoy their Amazon Appstore shovelware to their hearts content, or get deep into the weeds of sideloading the Google Play Store to enjoy a more fleshed-out Android experience. However, this is likely one cancelled Windows feature that many won't miss.

Goodbye, Windows Subsystem for Android, we hardly knew thee.

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Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.