Microsoft drags Windows Subsystem for Android into the trash

Amazon Appstore tieup fizzles out, too

Next year Microsoft will kill off the Windows Subsystem for Android, its framework for running Android applications from the Amazon Appstore on Windows 11 devices.

"Microsoft is ending support for the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA)," the IT titan said in a notice added to its WSA documentation site. "As a result, the Amazon Appstore on Windows and all applications and games dependent on WSA will no longer be supported beginning March 5, 2025."

Redmond gave no reason for the decision, which comes less than 18 months after WSA was launched.

We did poke the Windows maker for more details, and a spokesperson responded with a statement that failed to address why WSA is going to be dropped.

"As part of our commitment to meeting evolving customer needs, we periodically update our product offerings," the spinner told us. "This involves introducing new technical innovations and retiring products."

An Amazon spokesperson told The Register, "We are working closely with Microsoft to create a smooth end of support experience for developers and customers. Microsoft remains an important partner for Amazon."

After some teasing by Microsoft in 2021, WSA more or less surfaced in October the following year through a social media post from its development manager. The absence of an official announcement at the time looks, in retrospect, like a signal that Microsoft wasn't really committed to the project and the absence of support for Android apps in Google Play certainly didn't help.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has flirted with Android interoperability. There was Project Astoria, which Microsoft shelved in 2015.

In 2020, Microsoft introduced the Your Phone app, a way to access Android apps on Windows 10 from mostly Samsung devices. Also known as "Phone Link" and "Link to Windows," this service appears to be ongoing but not without challenges.

Massimo Biolcati, a musician and the developer of the iReal Pro app, complained about the discontinuation of WSA in a post to the project's GitHub repo. The decision, Biolcati said, is bad because he invested time to support the Amazon Appstore API under WSA and because customers have purchased his app specifically to use it on Windows.

WSA works by creating a virtual machine that supports the AOSP framework and associated hardware peripherals. It's designed to automatically redirect intents for files and certain URI schemes to applicable Windows file and protocol handlers. It also provides a way for Android apps to specifically redirect actions to Windows apps via custom URI schemes.

There are alternatives in some cases, such Google Play Games which allows Windows 10 devices to run games from Google Play. Also, Waydroid, which provides support for Android apps via Linux-based system containers, is said to work using Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). ®

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