Microsoft looks beyond the US with Windows Subsystem for Android

Realizes there's a big beautiful world out there and sets sail for Japan

Microsoft has taken a tentative step to expand the Windows Subsystem for Android outside of the US by making the preview available in Japan.

It has been an inexplicably long time coming, although there are workarounds for users that simply must have that super special Android app running on their desktop and don't have the regional accounts necessary.

The Windows Subsystem for Android arrived almost a year ago and the preview has been quietly updated ever since.

In May, Microsoft gave an an Android 12.1 update to Dev Channel Windows Insiders using the technology and most recently improved compatibility and networking.

However, that irritating insistence on a US account and the Amazon Appstore remained. While the Amazon part continues to vex users who would prefer to venture outside Jeff Bezos's walled garden (although there are, again, ways of poking through the brickwork), Microsoft is finally softening its stance on WSA being US-only with an expansion to Windows Insiders in Japan. "We are excited to take this first step on our path to make this preview available in other countries and regions," the company said.

Getting access requires Windows 11 22H2 (or higher) – hence the Windows Insider requirement – and an update to version 22206.1401.6 (or higher) of the Microsoft store in order to install the latest version of the Amazon Appstore.

One can't help but wonder who exactly all this whizzbang is really for. Microsoft's infamous scattergun approach looks to be at play. You can fire up Android apps from a connected smartphone via a recent victim of the rebranding department, Phone Link (formerly Your Phone). Developers are familiar with using an emulator for Android and now there is the long-gestating Windows Subsystem for Android. Far be it from us to wonder if someone spotted the old Project Astoria code sitting on a shelf after the death of Windows Phone and reinvented it, first as Windows Subsystem for Linux and now as WSA.

Still, if there's a game or Android app (in the Amazon Appstore) for which there is no Windows equivalent, WSA is a handy tool. The experience remains smooth and, with the intention to expand beyond the US, it looks like more of Microsoft's customers will be given the opportunity to bring some mobile fun to their Windows 11 desktops. ®

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