Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 11 will be available from 5 October, but not every new feature will be available on release day. That includes Android app support, one of the most eagerly-anticipated upgrades – Microsoft says this will be “rolled out over the next few months”.
A more specific timeframe is yet to be revealed, but many have taken this to mean 2022. The feature will be available in the Windows Insider Program first, with user feedback shaping the final version. The delay will be most keenly felt by those who buy a new Windows 11 device this October – most Windows 10 users will be waiting until next year for the free upgrade anyway.
Android app support was one of the most surprising announcements at the Windows 11 launch event on 24 June. It means Android apps will be natively supported by Windows for the first time, with the ability to pin them to the Start menu/taskbar or take full advantage of the new multitasking features.
The Amazon Appstore will now be integrated directly into the Microsoft Store app, with early signs suggesting there’ll be plenty of apps to choose from. TikTok, Kindle and Disney+ are among those to have been confirmed, while the sideloading of APK files is also expected to be possible.
Microsoft is using Intel Bridge technology for the feature, which recompiles the Android apps in real-time. This native support is smoother and more seamless than using emulator software such as Bluestacks – that was the only way to get Android apps on Windows until now.
This makes the Microsoft Store a much more attractive destination for all app developers, especially as they can now use their own payment system and keep all the money made. This is a key advantage over Apple and Google’s stores, both companies take a cut of the total revenue.
Free upgrades from Windows 10 get even more confusing
Ever since Microsoft announced Windows 11’s updated hardware requirements, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for anyone using an older CPU. Initially, Intel 8th-gen or AMD Ryzen 2000 chips and newer would be the only supported, and only if they supported Secure Boot and contained a TPM 2.0 module.
However, Microsoft has now expanded that CPU lineup to include Intel’s Xeon and Core X desktop processors, alongside the 7th-gen Kaby Lake chips that power the company’s own Surface Studio 2.
Microsoft has confirmed to The Verge that the Windows 11 ISO files will still be available to download on unsupported hardware, but there’s a big caveat. These devices may not be entitled to get Windows updates - including security updates – meaning using it long-term poses a serious security risk.
An updated version of the PC Health Check app, which can be used to find out if your device meets the Windows 11 hardware requirements, is now available to members of the Windows Insider Program. However, if you’ve already installed the beta on an unsupported PC, Microsoft is now telling you to reinstall Windows 10.
It might be the most hassle-free option, but we wouldn’t recommend rushing out to buy a new Windows 11 PC until you’re sure your current device won’t be supported. Even if that’s the case, Windows 10 will continue to be supported until October 2025 and is receiving a late 2021 feature update.