How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (2024)

The days of installing an emulator on your PC to play Android games are gone, at least for now. Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 11, ships with Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA). WSA is a first-party application that lets you install Android apps onto your PC as easily as if it were a new Chromebook — unless you live in the wrong country. However, a clever way to install Android apps on any Windows 11 PC exists, and we show you how in the guide below.

Windows Subsystem for Android works like Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which Microsoft introduced in 2016. Both WSL and WSA use virtualization to install and run apps.

Microsoft announced that it will end support for WSA in March 2025, so be aware that this guide has a shelf life.

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Installing Android apps on Windows 11

You can install the Windows Subsystem for Android Windows app using the program's installer package from Microsoft or by signing up for the Beta or Developer builds in the Windows Insider Program. This guide focuses on the former method.

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Installing the Windows Subsystem for Android

To install WSA, use the Microsoft Store Generation Project website. It retrieves packages from the Microsoft server, the same server that Microsoft Store uses to install apps on your Windows PC. Hence, it's safe to use.

  1. Go to store.rg-adguard.net.
  2. Copy the following link and paste it into the URL box: www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/windows-subsystem-for-android/9p3395vx91nr
    How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (3)
  3. Click the drop-down arrow to the right and select Slow.
    How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (4)
  4. Click the checkmark to search for files.
  5. Scroll down and click the largest MSIX bundle to start the download. As of this writing, 2304.40000.7.0 is the latest version and is 1.35GB. If the download doesn't work, right-click the file and select the Save link as option.
    How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (5)
  6. When the download finishes, go to the file's location.
  7. Double-click the file and click the Install button.
  8. When the installation is finished, the Windows Subsystem for Android launches.
    How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (7)

If the Windows Subsystem for Android doesn't open and mentions something about a virtual machine, you must go into the BIOS or UEFI on your computer and turn on the virtual machine setting for the CPU if it's turned off. The instructions are slightly different for Intel or AMD-based systems. You might also need to install the Virtual Machine Platform feature in Windows 11, which involves downloading an update and restarting your computer. Microsoft has an excellent official support page that shows how to do this.

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Alternatively, Winget can pull the WSA installer package from the Microsoft Store database. All you do is open the command prompt or the terminal, type the following command, and press Enter:

winget install --id=9P3395VX91NR -e --accept-package-agreements

If you plan to install loads of apps, back up Windows. Backing up and restoring Windows 10 and 11 installs is easy and doesn't require much effort.

Installing an app store: Aurora Store

Now that you're done installing WSA, you may think the next step is to install the Google Play Store and Play Services for an Android experience. However, it isn't that simple. When WSA was announced, people looked for ways to install Google Play Store. A helpful script was discovered, allowing anyone to install the Google Play Store and other Google Services. These scripts were from bad actors, but that wasn't known until later. They injected users with malware and other problems, as reported by BleepingComputer.

If you're still keen on installing the Google Play Store with Google services, WSAGAScript is an open source project that lets you do just that. Getting the Google Play Store running via the script could be time-consuming as it requires installing WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux). Plus, you'll need to know some basics for troubleshooting the terminal/command prompt part of the setup. Another drawback is that you must repeat the steps when a new WSA update is available.

There are many safe Google Play Store alternatives, and one of our favorites is the Aurora Store. As WSA allows sideloading, installing any third-party store and other apps is simple. If you want to avoid sideloading an APK, WSA Sideloader is the perfect solution. All you do is install and open it, download and browse the location of an APK file, and click Install. If that doesn't work, here's how to manually install an APK on Windows Subsystem for Android:

  1. Get the stable Aurora Store APK from its official website.
  2. Install the Android Debugging Bridge. Refer to the Windows: Manual Setup section in our ADB guide.
  3. Navigate to the Platform Tools folder, right-click, and select Open in Terminal. This opens a new Powershell command prompt.
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  4. Open Windows Subsystem for Android, go to Developer, and turn on Developer mode.
    How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (11)
  5. After it's turned on, Android's Developer options may pop up in a window. Close it, and you'll see a string of numbers separated by periods and a semicolon. Make a note of this number. You may need to confirm or add the Windows Subsystem for Android app to your firewall before it shows these numbers.
  6. Go to Terminal and type adb connectnumber. Replace number with the number you saw in the Developer mode section, then press Enter. For example, ADB connect 127.0.0.1:2000.
  7. It returns "connected" and asks you to allow USB debugging. Click Allow to proceed. Check the Always allow from this computer option to skip this step in the future.
  8. Move the Aurora Store APK file to the Platform Tools folder.
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  9. Enter adb install AuroraStore_4.1.1.apk in your terminal. Here, 4.1.1 refers to the version number, which could differ depending on when you're reading this. Copy the exact file name and paste it into Terminal, then press Enter. As an easier option, type adb install, press the space bar, then drag the file onto the Terminal screen to point to the exact file.
    How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (13)
  10. Open the Start menu. You'll find Aurora Store in the Recommended section. Alternatively, you can search for it using the search bar.

Now that Aurora Store is installed and ready to go, the next step is to open it, set it up, and install your favorite apps. Installing apps from the Aurora Store is similar to installing them from the Google Play Store.

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Setting up Aurora Store

Here's how to set up the Aurora Store app.

  1. Click the Aurora Store icon to start the application.
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  2. Accept the Terms of Service and click Next.
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  3. Check Session installer and click Next.
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  4. Choose the app's theme and accent, and click Next.
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  5. Grant the required permissions and proceed further.
  6. When you're done, click Finish.
  7. WSA lacks GApps and the Sign in with Google option doesn't work, so click Anonymous.
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  8. You'll see the Aurora Store homepage.
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  9. To download an app, click an icon and the Install button to start the download.
    How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (21)
  10. When you see a window containing the package installer, click Install.
    How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (22)
  11. After an app is installed, you'll find it in the Start menu's Recommended section or All apps.
    How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (23)
  12. Here's Instagram running on WSA.
    How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (24)

Like many Google Play Store alternatives, Aurora Store has shortcomings. One of them is app availability. You can counter it by manually installing APKs from APK Mirror using the adb install command.

Installing WSA by enrolling in Windows Insiders

The other method involves signing up for the Windows Insider Program. Installing the Beta or Developer versions allows you to try out upcoming features at the expense of overall system stability. Regardless, it is an option if you don't want to rely on third-party tools. All you do is sign up for the Beta in the Windows Insider Program, change your region to the US, and search for and download the Amazon Appstore from the Windows Store.

Beta and Developer builds could be unstable and are typically not recommended for daily use. When you receive an insider build, you can't go back to a stable version unless you clean-install Windows.

Windows Subsystem for Android is still limited

As of version 2211.40000.11.0, Microsoft upped the Android version to Android 13. WSA is mostly in its development and testing phases, and that's where it will stay since Microsoft is ending its support for WSA. Until that happens, the methods outlined in this guide are your best bet for trying out WSA before it disappears.

WSA is an excellent tool for developers and enthusiasts who want to run Android apps on a Windows computer. However, the average user may want to stick with the official method — the Amazon Appstore. It lacks some of the best Android apps, but it's easier to manage if you prefer to keep things simple.

Get more done with the command line

If you're comfortable using the Windows command line interface, check out the ingenious ways to use the Windows Command prompt. You might find something useful, like removing a stubborn program that won't uninstall or reading a simple text document.

How to set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC (2024)

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