Microsoft is now offering a new version of Windows Subsystem for Android, in testing, that runs all of your apps on the latest Android 12.1.

First launched earlier this year, the Windows Subsystem for Android lets you access many of the same Android apps you know and love directly on your Windows 11 PC, albeit with some spec requirements. Admittedly, the experience and library aren’t quite the same as you’ll have on your phone or Chromebook, as by default, you use the Amazon Appstore to get Android apps instead of the Google Play Store. Still, on the whole, it’s an exciting new feature for PC owners.

In a new blog post, Microsoft has laid out the future of Windows Subsystem for Android, beginning with a new update available for Windows Insiders who are subscribed to the Dev Channel. The headlining feature of this update is that Windows 11 will now use Android 12.1 to run your apps, but this will reportedly come with a few consequences as certain apps may no longer be compatible.

Other improvements include changes to Android’s networking that allow you to connect to local devices like Chromecast-enabled speakers, better keyboard and mouse support, and some much-needed bug fixes for camera support. You’ll also find a completely redesigned Android Settings app and deeper integration into the Windows 11 system.

The move to Android 12.1 puts Windows 11 firmly in the forefront of Android desktop support, with Google’s own Chrome OS still running its mobile apps on Android 11. Microsoft’s upcoming upgrade to Android 12.1 — sometimes referred to as Android 12L — could be intended to take advantage of Google’s work to improve the experience for “large screen” devices, which a Windows PC would certainly qualify as.

The update is only available to testers at the moment, as Microsoft is seeking feedback before unleashing Android 12.1 on more Windows 11 PCs. If you’re feeling brave enough to test pre-release software, you can register for the Windows Insider program and try the update on your own device.

Full Changelog

  • Windows Subsystem for Android updated to Android 12.1
  • Advanced networking on by default for newer x64 Windows builds
  • Updated Windows Subsystem for Android Settings app: redesigned UX and diagnostics data viewer added
  • Simpleper CPU profiler recording now works with Windows Subsystem for Android
  • Windows taskbar now shows which Android apps are using microphone and location
  • Improvements to Android app notifications appearing as Windows notifications
  • Reduced flicker when apps are restored from minimized state
  • Apps are not restarted when devices come out of connected standby on recent Windows builds
  • New video hardware decoding (VP8 and VP9)
  • Fixes for on-screen keyboard in apps
  • Fixes for full screen Android apps and auto-hidden Windows taskbar
  • Windows Subsystem for Android updated with Chromium WebView 100
  • Added support for Android NetworkLocationProvider in addition to GpsLocationProvider
  • Improved general stability, performance, and reliability

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Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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