Microsoft rolls out Android apps for Windows 11, new features to mainstream users

This includes a preview of the Amazon Appstore with an additional 1,000 apps and games.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: ZDNet

On February 15, Microsoft is starting its roll out of a handful of promised new Windows 11 features to mainstream users (not Insider testers). Among these features is a preview of Android apps for Windows 11, which will be available via the Amazon Appstore with a curated set of more than 1,000 games and apps.

Up until today, there were fewer than 50 Android games and apps (predominantly games) available to the Windows Insiders who were putting the Windows Subsystem for Android and the Amazon Appstore through their testing paces. Microsoft officials said today they've worked with Amazon to add another 1,000 games and apps for Windows 11 users to check out as part of the preview. 

I asked Microsoft for some of the app titles that were added to the collection; no word back so far.

The full set of Windows 11 features that begin rolling out today includes:

  • Access to the Amazon Appstore Preview, which features a curated set of Android apps and games (Note: This will be available only to Windows 11 users in the US for now)
  • The ability to mute/unmute and share any window from the taskbar
  • A weather icon for the taskbar, which will serve as a new entry point to Windows 11 widgets
  • The ability to see the clock and date on the taskbar of a secondary monitor
  • Redesigned Media Player app
  • Redesigned Notepad app

Back in January, Microsoft officials outlined plans to make all of these features available to mainstream Windows 11 users starting this month. Last week, Microsoft moved a number of these features into the Beta and Release Preview testing channels to make sure they were ready for availability.

Users will get access to these features in a variety of ways.

The Notepad and Media Player apps are available as app updates to Windows 11 customers via the Microsoft Store. Users should get these updated apps automatically, but they also can get them manually by checking for app updates by going to Microsoft Store > Library and clicking Get updates.

For the call all mute/unmute, Window sharing, and weather on taskbar, users can get these via the February 2022 optional preview release (aka "C" release). To access "C" releases, navigate to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and select Check for updates.

And to access the Amazon Appstore Preview, users first need to install the Amazon Appstore app. Customers can install the Appstore in two ways:

  • Install the Amazon Appstore app from the Microsoft Store by searching for "Amazon Appstore" 
  • Install any app for Android from the Microsoft Store, and the Microsoft Store will automatically install the Amazon Appstore

Although Microsoft announced last year that it would deliver only one feature update per year to Windows 10 and 11 users starting this year (with the 22H2 releases coming around October), today's blog post about the new features indicates that Microsoft is planning to continue to roll out new features independently of this annual update. From the post:

"Over time, you'll see us release new features into Windows 11 for end users more frequently in addition to our annual update. We will leverage the variety of update mechanisms we have in place including servicing and Microsoft Store updates. Our goal is to deliver continuous innovation, providing you with the best experiences year-round."

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