Microsoft finally announced Windows 11 with support for Android apps
Since Microsoft teased Windows 11 at its developer conference last month and we saw a pre-release build leak online, we haven't had a deeper look at what's changed besides the cosmetic appearance of the new operating system. Yesterday, Microsoft officially unveiled Windows 11 and showcased a bunch of new features including support for Android apps, effective multitasking features, and an improved touch experience.
Windows 11 build leak last week revealed significant visual redesign
When a build of Windows 11 leaked last week ahead of the official launch, we were treated to a delightful visual experience that included a new taskbar, new system-wide icon designs, a redesigned Start Menu. Other immediately noticeable features included Snap Layouts for convenient multitasking, a new sidebar for widgets, and an improved touch keyboard. All of these features were now officially unveiled.
Support for Android applications enabled via 'Windows Subsystem for Android'
The biggest update revealed at the official launch was the support for Android apps. However, it isn't exactly native support. Microsoft claims to have developed a new "Windows Subsystem for Android". This enables installed Android apps to behave like native Windows apps, but in the background, Microsoft bridges the Android app to the Windows interface using the new Intel Bridge runtime post-compiler.
Android apps will be supported on all x86 processors: Intel
Devices connected to your Windows computers such as keyboards, mice, touch, styluses, and Bluetooth gadgets will work with the Android apps. Intel's blog post suggests devices running 10th and 11th generation Intel Core processors would soon support Android apps this way. The company told The Verge that this includes support for all x86 based processors, including those manufactured by rival AMD.
Every app made for Android won't run on Windows 11
However, the number of Android apps usable on Windows 11 is limited since you can only use those listed on Amazon Appstore. You'll basically have to install Amazon Appstore and sign in before you can use Microsoft Store to download the Android apps. That said, we think it's a start for Microsoft but you're better off using emulators such as Bluestacks for smooth compatibility.
Snap Layouts, Group make split-screen multitasking a breeze
For the Microsoft Edge browser, Microsoft has finally introduced support for vertical tabs that make it easier to see the tabs you have opened. Multitasking also becomes more convenient with Snap Layouts that we saw in the pre-launch leak. Snap Groups remember apps you use together in a Layout and can be summoned easily. Users can also set different wallpapers for different virtual desktops.
Touchscreen users can enjoy convenient window resizing, gesture typing
With more laptop-tablet hybrid devices hitting store shelves, Windows 11 also packs an improved experience when used with a touchscreen or stylus. Subtle improvements such as easier window resizing, gesture typing support, and haptic feedback for styluses have been added. Gamers should also enjoy Windows 11 with support for Auto HDR and DirectX 12 Ultimate. Xbox Game Pass has been integrated too (membership separate).
Microsoft won't charge developers a commission for Microsoft Store listing
Meanwhile, like Microsoft had teased at the Build 2021 conference for developers, it announced a new zero-revenue share approach. Essentially, from July 28, developers won't have to pay Microsoft a commission for listing their apps on the Microsoft Store. Developers will also be allowed to integrate third-party payment gateways for in-app purchases with no need to give Microsoft a cut.
Windows 10 users to soon get free Windows 11 upgrade
Speaking of the availability of Windows 11, the operating system has been unveiled but isn't available for users just yet. Microsoft has said that compatible devices running Windows 10 will get a free upgrade to Windows 11 when it becomes available. Until then, you can use Microsoft's compatibility checker app to ensure your device's hardware is compatible with the latest operating system.