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App Versions for Windows

Started by arlo, November 11, 2022, 05:14:03 PM

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Microsoft's long-awaited plans to support Android apps in Windows 11 are finally coming together, to the point where I've been able to test BandHelper and Set List Maker on a Windows laptop. Here are the issues I've seen in testing (updated 2024-01-16):

  • To import and export database files in Set List Maker, you can open the Windows Subsystem for Android app, go to Advanced Settings > Experimental Features, turn on Share User Folders and select a different folder if needed. Then Set List Maker's file pickers will include a "Windows" folder that points to that shared folder. BandHelper can sync without any extra setup.
  • Live Sharing does not work when running on Windows. Microsoft says they're working on this but don't have a timeline for it.
  • Remote Control works with one foot switch I tried (AirTurn BT-200|S-2) but not another (iRig BlueTurn). I think this is more related to Windows or my laptop hardware than to the Android subsystem, because the BlueTurn shows "driver error" in the Windows Bluetooth settings.
  • The Android MIDI framework is not supported on Windows. My apps include a third-party MIDI library as a fallback, but USB, Bluetooth and peer networking are also not supported, so there's no way to transmit messages to or from other devices. I tried using virtual MIDI to exchange data with other Android apps, and that didn't work, either.

Given these limitations, I wondered if this had any advantages over existing Android emulators, so I downloaded and tried Bluestacks 5. Here's how they compare:

  • The interface runs a bit less smoothly in Bluestacks compared to WSA.
  • Android apps in Bluestacks run inside the Bluestacks window, but run in their own window with WSA and feel like native Windows apps.
  • Most of the functional limitations listed above are the same in Bluestacks: remote control works, but Live Sharing and MIDI don't. Bluestacks allows copying files between the Bluestacks and the Windows environments using its Media Manager, so you can import and export Set List Maker databases.
  • Bluestacks has lower system requirements, requiring only Windows 7 (but Windows 10 is recommended) and 4 GB of RAM (but 8 GB is recommended). WSA requires Windows 11 and 8 GB of RAM (but 16 GB is recommended).
  • Bluestacks uses the Google Play Store, while WSA uses the Amazon Appstore. This means if you bought Set List Maker for Android through Google, you would need to buy it again through Amazon to run it on Windows. If you're using BandHelper, that's a free download from either store.

I'll be watching for any changes to these functional limitations. Meanwhile, you can install BandHelper or Set List Maker by opening the Microsoft Store app and installing the Amazon Appstore app, which installs the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA). Then you can open the Amazon Appstore app and search for BandHelper or Set List Maker.

You can learn more about WSA, including system requirements, here:

The countries where this is available are listed here:

By the way, the laptop I'm testing with is a Lenovo Yoga 6 with 16 GB of RAM. Performance is good. In fact, my apps seem to run faster than native Windows apps -- probably because they are optimized for mobile devices.


When I first posted this, exchanging files between the Android and Windows environments was not possible, so I did not release Set List Maker for Windows. This is now possible with a new "experimental" setting, so I have released Set List Maker for Windows and updated the instructions above.


Bad news: last week, with no warning, Microsoft killed this program. They said people who had already downloaded Android apps to Windows can continue using them, but new installations are no longer possible:

I think the "no longer supported" language means I will no longer be able to release app updates after March 5, 2025. I'm guessing installed apps will still open after that date, but will eventually become broken in various ways until the option is no longer practical.

This means using Bluestacks or other emulators is again the only option for my apps on Windows. I was more willing to invest time into supporting an official solution from Microsoft, so it's a shame that is ending already.