The surprise announcement last week that Windows 11 would support Android apps was tempered by fact that Microsoft is using the Amazon app store to deliver them. Thankfully, you won’t be tied to the Amazon store. A Microsoft engineer has confirmed that you can ‘sideload’ apps in Windows 11, meaning you can install games and more from anywhere.
Confirmation came on twitter via Microsoft developer Miguel de Icaza
Yes!— Miguel de Icaza (@migueldeicaza) June 25, 2021
Android allows ‘sideloading’, basically letting you install an app by copying it to the phone’s storage, running it from there, and then burning some sage in case of malware. We don’t know how exactly Windows 11 will accomplish this, but it’s good to know you can. That’s how we do things on the PC. A good place to grab something to sideload would be via Itch.io's Android section.
When I owned an Amazon tablet, I did everything I could to bypass their own store. It was a mess and not nearly as well stocked as Google’s own store. For example, you can find an official Call of Duty mobile game on Google Play (free-to-play), but on Amazon’s store you’ll find “Call of Striker Zone Mobile Duty: Free Shooting Game”. Amusingly, to find that out, I had to sideload the Amazon app store onto my phone. Android is a wild west.
However it works, Android on PC is a welcome addition for me. My tablet has it. My phone has it. The old laptop I install random operating systems on for fun sometimes has Android on it. I’m invested in it. There are plenty of games that I’d much rather play on the PC than my phone, but they’re only available on Android. Sky: Children of the Light is on everything but the PC. It took Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery almost two years to make the leap to Steam. At the very least, you’ll be able to get a head start by playing those mobile games that get reskinned as PC games. Boom!
Windows 11 is scheduled for the end of 2021, start of 2022, and if you own Windows 10 it'll be a free upgrade. If Microsoft can make Android viable on the PC, they’ve got a real win on their hands.