Last October, Microsoft began testing Android apps on Windows 11 PCs in partnership with Amazon and its app store. However, the feature was only available to beta testers participating in the Windows 11 Insider Program, and was limited to around 50 apps. Today, the company is opening up access to a broader audience with the arrival of the Amazon Appstore Preview in the Microsoft Store, which will now offer over 1,000 more apps and games.
Alongside this launch, Microsoft is also rolling out select Windows Taskbar improvements and redesigned Media Player and Notepad apps.
Originally, Android app beta testers were able to try out apps like Amazon’s Kindle app, The Washington Post, Clash of Kings, Coin Master, and Lego Duplo World, among others. The experience is built on the Android platform via the new Windows Subsystem for Android, powered by Intel’s Bridge Technology. Both AMD and Intel devices are supported, however, given they meet hardware requirements for running Windows 11.
The expanded access to the Amazon Appstore Preview began rolling out earlier this morning, as engineering prep work was needed to stage the experience. But the full integrated experience wasn’t yet live.
Now, Windows 11 users in the U.S. will be able to access the Amazon Appstore Preview and download over 1,000 more apps and games in partnership with Amazon, including top apps like Audible, Subway Surfers, Lords Mobile, Khan Academy Kids, and others. To get started, users will need to open then update their Microsoft Store (click Get updates in Microsoft Store > Library.) You can then search for your favorite apps and games and download them through the Amazon Appstore. The idea is that the apps will run in a way that makes them feel like a part of Windows, as they’ll integrate with Windows input and windowing experiences, like Snap layouts.
Taskbar improvements are also rolling out today. The redesigned version of the taskbar in Windows 11 received a lot of complaints from users who didn’t appreciate that the bar was now locked to the bottom of the screen and didn’t allow users to add their own shortcuts. Microsoft heard the feedback and has been planning to fix this, but today’s update is about addressing a different set of issues.
The taskbar will now show the clock and date on the taskbar of the secondary monitor; it will now show live weather content in the left-hand corner of the taskbar; and Microsoft Teams customers (with work or school accounts) will be able to mute, unmute and share any window from the taskbar to make video calls go more smoothly.
These features will initially be available in the Feb. 2022 non-security preview release.
The Media Player app, meanwhile, gained improved keyboard shortcuts and access keys for keyboard users along with other accessibility improvements. And the Notepad app gained a new user interface with design features from Windows 11, Dark Mode support, simplified menus and other requested features like multi-level undo, colorful emoji, and a better find-and-replace experience.
Users can request these latter updates by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update then select Check for Updates.
Microsoft says it plans to update Windows 11 more frequently in 2022, in addition to its annual update.