Windows 11 with native Android apps via Amazon, and more

🚫 Morning! One of the quirky elements of the Windows 11 presentation yesterday was technical difficulties! Microsoft didn’t use YouTube, and many of us watching via the provided Windows stream had issues with stuttering and stop/starts. Ironically, re-broadcasts and reaction videos hosted on YouTube did work….

Windows 11 unveiled

Windows 11 Logo

Microsoft’s Windows 11 announcement yesterday delivered. It wasn’t just the new features and design touches, but a major change in support for Android apps.

In brief:

  • Microsoft formally announced Windows 11, the first major Windows upgrade since 2015.
  • There’s a sumptuous, completely over the top 2m42s video (YouTube) that catches you up in brief, introducing many of the main themes of Windows 11, including the new simplified, glass-look UI, new Start Menu, better ways to snap applications and windows into place, new PC gaming touches, widgets including paid options for developers, and a new Microsoft Store — more on that below.
  • Gaming also gets specific attention, with auto HDR and faster loading times built in.
  • The Windows Store will be opened right up, with developers getting 100% of revenue, as the heat is cranked up on Apple. (Games aren’t included, with a 12% fee.)
  • Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for Windows 10 users.
  • It’s coming, Microsoft says, “beginning this holiday.” That unspecific date has been reported as late October.

The biggest surprise:

  • A genuine surprise was delivered during the presentation: Microsoft is bringing Android apps to Windows 11, natively, via Intel Bridge technology, and via the Amazon Appstore.
  • That means you’ll be able to run Android apps directly from your Windows machine, no emulation required.
  • It’s not limited to Intel-powered PCs either, with Intel’s run-time post compiler bringing Android apps to x86 platforms, which includes AMD despite the Intel tech play. 
  • PCs with Arm processors are also supported, details to come.
  • By the way, some people without a supported CPU(Microsoft) will miss out on the Windows 11 upgrade, which may become more controversial once millions miss out…

Amazon twist:

  • Really, the twist here is Microsoft teaming up with Amazon’s Appstore for Android apps.
  • The billion-pound elephant in the room is the Google Play Store, which is nowhere to be seen. 
  • That means, I’d guess, Microsoft couldn’t come to terms with Google regarding PCs running Google Mobile Services, or Google wanted its ChromeOS devices to be the only ones offering Google apps, or both.
  • Microsoft and Google have a bit of a strange relationship: the history of Windows Mobile vs Android feels like the distant past, but they’ve never played nicely when it comes to mobile app matters, even if there was a collaboration on the Surface Duo device.
  • That makes running native Android apps on Windows less great, because the Amazon Appstore is terrible. Amazon takes 30% by default, just like Apple and Google, so there are few advantages.
  • I could give Amazon a pass if it were a plucky little upstart, but Amazon isn’t exactly a minor player.
  • Years ago, Amazon used to really push its platform by offering premium apps for free, which saw at least some takeup (just as Epic has been doing with free games on its PC app platform.)
  • Poking around earlier today on the Amazon Appstore, and while there are obviously no Google apps, there are plenty of others missing too (Slack, Asana, PokĂ©mon Go, Philips Hue app), and the platform is just malnourished compared to Google Play.
  • Separately, I can’t imagine Windows not letting you sideload APKs, and in the later developer briefing, Microsoft said there will be a Windows Subsystem for Android, as there has been for Linux.
  • Does Amazon benefit from this more than Microsoft?

Also: Here’s a list of features that are deprecated or removed in Windows 11 (MSPowerUser).


Friday Fun

wheelchair basketball

Yes yes, the 2020 Olympics are coming, but so are the Paralympics! And one of the best sports to watch, wheelchair basketball, is now incorporating Formula One technology(ABC).

  • The teams aren’t using hybrid-electric engines, which may be slightly illegal out on the court. 
  • What’s coming to wheelchair basketball then? Carbon fiber seats, the very same material used by F1 drivers and in America’s Cup yachts.
  • That means lighter and faster setups, for more speed and agility on the courts.
  • (The write-up is a very pro-Australian Paralympics piece but hey, you love to see the competition out there!)

Have a great weekend,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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