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How to sideload Android apps using WSA on Windows 11

Windows 11 sideload Android apps
Windows 11 sideload Android apps (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft has released the first preview of the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) that finally brings support for Android apps to Windows 11. Although the company has decided to collaborate with Amazon to download the apps using the Amazon Appstore, it's possible to sideload other Android apps.

The new platform is currently available for devices using "United States" as the region running the most up-to-date version of Windows 11 and meeting the memory, processor, and virtualization requirements. You will also need a United States-based Amazon account to use the Amazon Appstore.

Since the Amazon Appstore only offers a limited number of apps, and not everyone has an Amazon account or an account based in the U.S., you can use the Android Debugging Bridge (ADB) tools to install apps from any source, using the ".apk" file.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the steps to sideload Android apps on your computer.

How to install WSA on Windows 11

To sideload Android apps, you first need to confirm that your computer meets the minimum requirements, and then you need to install the Windows Subsystem for Android, which you can do by installing the Amazon Appstore.

System requirements

These are the additional system requirements for running Android apps on Windows 11:

  • Memory: 8GB or 16GB (recommended).
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 8th Gen, AMD Ryzen 3000, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8c, or better.
  • Storage: Solid-state drive (SSD).
  • Microsoft Store app: Version 22110.1402.6.0 or higher.
  • Windows 11: Build 22000.527 or higher.

Check system requirements

To check the system requirements, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the About page on the right side.
  4. Under the "Device specifications" section, confirm the RAM and CPU requirements.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Windows specifications" section, confirm the build number is equal to or higher than 22000.257.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Storage page on the right side.
  4. Under the "Storage management" section, select the Advanced storage settings option.
  5. Click the Disks & volumes setting.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the main drive.
  2. Confirm that the media type is SSD. If it's "HDD," you won't be able to install WSA.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you complete the steps, you want to make sure the device has the latest updates of Windows 11.

Check for Windows 11 updates

To download the latest updates of Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Windows Update.
  3. Click the Check for updates button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After you complete the steps, restart the computer to apply any pending updates.

Check for Microsoft Store update

If you want to install the Amazon Appstore app, the device must be using the Microsoft Store app, version 22110.1402.6.0 or higher.

You can use these steps to update the store and check the current version:

  1. Open Microsoft Store app.
  2. Click on Library.
  3. Click the Get updates button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Profile menu and select the App settings option.
  2. Confirm that the version is equal to or higher than 22110.1402.6.0.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you complete the steps, you can now enable the virtualization features on the motherboard and Windows 11.

Enable virtualization

The Android apps support requires a device with virtualization enabled at the hardware and software level. Since each computer is different, you may want to check your manufacturer support website for the specific steps to check and enable virtualization in the UEFI firmware of the motherboard. If you have a computer with modern hardware, this feature may already be enabled. Once you confirm that virtualization is enabled, you can turn on the Virtual Machine Platform on Windows 11.

To enable the Virtual Machine Platform feature, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Turn Windows features on or off and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Check the Virtual Machine Platform option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the OK button.
  2. Click the Restart button.

After you complete the steps, you can proceed to install the Windows Subsystem for Android and the Amazon Appstore.

Install Amazon Appstore and WSA

To install the Amazon Appstore with WSA, use these steps:

  1. Open the Amazon Appstore page.
  2. Click the Install button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Set up button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Download button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Next button.
  2. Click the Restart button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After you complete the steps, you can finally proceed to sideload Android apps on Windows 11.

How to sideload Android apps on Windows 11

The process to install and run Android apps has three steps. First, you need to set up the Android Debugging Bridge (ADB) tools to connect and install the apps. Then you need to provide the .apk file to install the application. Third, you need to use the ADB command to stream and install the package to the Windows Subsystem for Android virtual machine.

Set up Android Debugging Bridge

To set up the ADB tools, use these steps:

  1. Open the Android developer website.
  2. Under the "Downloads" section, click the Download SDK Platform-Tools for Windows link.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Check the option to accept the terms.
  2. Click the Downloads section, click the Download Android SDK Platform-Tools for Windows button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Save the platform-tools zip to the computer.
  2. Open the recently downloaded zip folder.
  3. Click the Extract all button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Browse button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the extraction destination.
  2. Click the Extract button.
  3. Open the platform-tools folder.
  4. Select and copy the path from the address bar.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you complete the steps, you need to download the Android app file you want to install on Windows 11.

Download Android apps

You will need to provide the ".apk" file to install the app you want through the Windows Subsystem for Android outside the Amazon Appstore.

Once you get the Android APK file from your favorite trusted repository, make sure to save it inside the platform-tools folder.

Sideload Android apps on Windows 11

To install Android apps outside the Amazon Appstore on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows Subsystem for Android and click the top result to open the platform.
  3. Turn on the Developer mode toggle switch.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Copy button from the IP address setting.Quick tip: If the address is unknown, click the Manage developer settings option to spin WSA in the Developer mode setting and click the Refresh button in the IP address setting.
  2. Open Start.
  3. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
  4. Type the following command to navigate to the platform-tools folder and press Enter:cd C:\PATH\TO\platform-toolsIn the command, change the path of the location where you extracted the files.For example, this command opens the tool's location inside the "Downloads" folder:cd C:\Users\yourusername\Downloads\platform-tools_r31.0.3-windows\platform-tools
  5. Type the following command to connect to the WSA instance and press Enter:adb connect WSA-IP-ADDRESSIn the command, replace "WSA-IP-ADDRESS" with the actual IP address of the Windows Subsystem for Android.For example, this command connects using the 172.17.114.137 address:adb connect 172.17.114.137
  6. Type the following command to install the Android app and press Enter:adb install ANDROID-APK-APPNAMEIn the command, replace "ANDROID-APK-APPNAME" with the actual .apk package name.For example, this command installs the package called apple-music-app.apk located in the platform-tools folder:adb install apple-music-app.apk

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After you complete the steps, the app will install, and you can then find it and run it from the Start menu like any other native app on Windows.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

17 Comments
  • Wonder if google play store, and other apps will work. later
    -1
  • Last I heard, people got it installed, but are unable to log onto their Google account.
  • Sounds like there's a workaround for that too. Video is on youtube.
    later
    -1
  • Jesus H Christ, you're cool.
  • I just went thru the Amazon process, and all they offer is a handfull of apps, and most are games.
  • Is there a recommendation for where to get verified apks
  • apkmirror, run by the team behind androidpolice, is a good resource
  • 1. install the app from playstore on your android device.
    2. use x-plore file explorer to extract the APK into your cloud storage.
    3. follow instructions on this site to side load the app. i did this on a purchased app and it retained premium features.
    4. profit
  • 8G ram VM, so somebody can stop imaging android app for windows phone.
    If it is VM, i really don't know what is intel bridge technology, i thought it will help apk work natively on windows.
  • There was a build of Windows 10 Mobile with Android apps running. Worked pretty good.
  • Why that ? First WM was lighter than 11 so you should have had more RAM leftover by the OS but there à plenty of phones with 8go ram now...
  • I'm in alpha build and can't use apk yet but anyone tryed Aurora store??
    And Samsung wear to be able to link watch to windows??
  • Hi, is there to way to change default storage location for WSA?
    I have it installed on my main SSD which is 128GB and it is running out of space. I use a secondary m.2 drive as storage, is there a way to move the default app storage to the second drive? I want to use tinycampro w/ WSA so the extra space is necessary for recordings.
  • I keep getting a adb: error: failed to get feature set: more than one device/emulator error. How do you fix this?
  • Enter the command "adb disconnect" to disconnect all devices, then run the adb connect command you ran before.
  • I sideloaddd Google play on my laptop. Works quite good
  • Hi. I just installed Facebook for Android following the above procedure. It shows up in my Windows Start Menu, but when I click it, nothing happens. Are there any additional steps I need to take? Thanks.