Support for Android apps on Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 11 platform is a big deal, but the company owes it to two other companies: Amazon and Intel. The Amazon partnership is straightforward: its app store will distribute Android apps to the Microsoft Store. The Intel partnership, on the other hand, is more technical and, perhaps, more consequential. It made use of a feature called “Intel Bridge,” which allows apps to conform to hardware.
“Customers benefit from Intel and Microsoft’s long-standing approach to operating systems, system architecture, and hardware integration. In a blog post, Gregory Bryant, Intel Executive Vice President and General Manager, Client Computing Group, said, “The combination of Windows 11 and Intel technologies and platforms offers unmatched performance, compatibility, and experiences on Windows, and we’re bringing people’s favorite experiences from the phone to the PC with Intel® Bridge Technology.”
What is the purpose of Intel Bridge technology?
The Intel Bridge technology is essentially a compiler or a tool that converts computer software written in one programming language to another. With Intel Bridge, Windows 11 gains a compiler that allows Android software to run not only on Windows but also on Windows devices powered by ARM and x86 processors.
ARM and x86 are two processor architectures that are used in mobile and PC processors. Qualcomm uses ARM architectures in its Snapdragon chips, whereas Intel and AMD use x86 architectures in their processors. Android apps must recognize all types of hardware to function properly on Windows 11 devices. That is precisely what Intel Bridge purports to enable here.
According to the company’s blog post, “Intel Bridge Technology is a runtime post-compiler that enables applications to run natively on x86-based devices, including running those applications on Windows.” “Intel’s multi-architecture XPU strategy delivers the right engines for the right workloads by integrating leading CPU cores, graphics technology, artificial intelligence accelerators, image processors, and more in a single, validated solution,” the company said.
That, however, does not tell us much about how Android apps will perform on Windows 11 devices. So far, Microsoft’s experiment with ARM processors has not yielded the same level of performance as Intel and AMD processors. The majority of reviews point out that the issue is with compiling x86 apps for ARM architectures.
“Intel believes it is critical to provide this capability across all x86 platforms and has designed Intel Bridge technology to support all x86 platforms (including AMD platforms),” the chipmaker said in a statement to The Verge. The technology, according to Intel, “vastly expands mobile applications to run right on the PC.”