The Xbox and Windows ecosystems get closer every day, and that will be even truer once Windows 11 comes out in October. Over the next few years, we can expect to see select Windows features show up on Xbox — which apparently includes the ability to run Android apps.
Windows Subsystem for Android, an Windows program that will eventually let PCs run Android programs, is officially compatible with Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S consoles — even though it’s not up and running just yet.
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That information comes from XDA, which discovered Windows Subsystem for Android’s unexpected compatibility while researching the program for a Windows 11 news piece. Initially, Microsoft promised Android app support in Windows 11. However, since then, the company has decided to roll the feature out to Windows Insiders and get some real-world testing before wide release. As such, you can now download Windows Subsystem for Android in the Microsoft Store, even though you can’t do anything with it just yet.
What’s arguably more interesting, however, is that the program isn’t just available for Windows; it also claims to be compatible with Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. The app doesn’t even run on Windows yet, so trying to install it on Xbox doesn’t seem possible at the moment. However, this doesn’t seem to be just a fluke. Generally speaking, Microsoft Store apps list Xbox compatibility only if you can actually install the program on an Xbox.
Assuming this isn’t just some Windows Insider glitch, it’s not at all unreasonable to think that Microsoft might try to implement Android compatibility on Xbox consoles. After all, the Xbox and Windows ecosystems are structurally similar, and the Xbox Series X is a powerful console. Theoretically, if a mid-range Windows 11 gaming PC can do something, the Xbox should be able to do it as well.
More importantly, running Android apps on an Xbox could open up a whole range of possibilities for Microsoft’s popular console. In addition to adding hundreds of games to the Xbox library, Android apps would let Xbox users browse the Internet, post on social media and even stream from a wider range of video providers, all from their consoles.
Even if Microsoft does choose to implement this functionality, however, it may not run perfectly. Mimicking an Android OS is a resource-intensive activity, and Windows requires at least 8 GB RAM to do it; Microsoft recommends having 16 GB. The Xbox Series X and S both have 16 GB RAM, but the older Xbox One has only 8 GB.
In either case, Android apps on Xbox are an intriguing idea, and one that could transform the console from a gaming system into a multimedia powerhouse. Hopefully, Microsoft will provide more information about this functionality soon, even if it’s only to say “don’t get your hopes up.”
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.