Could Android apps finally make Windows tablets a thing?

Let me start by clarifying the headline: I know Windows tablets exist. I’m one of the rare nerds who’s been using 2-in-1 PCs as my primary device for over a decade. I’ve been on the tablet train before the Microsoft Surface even existed, back when 2-in-1’s were just called tablet PCs.

And yet, after all this time, tablet PCs have never been great at being, you know, tablets. Usually, it’s not been for the lack of decent hardware — manufacturers have been able to put out devices with good designs and nearly iPad-matching performance. Instead, it’s the dearth of software that makes it hard to use a Windows tablet to its fullest potential.

And then Microsoft announced it would be bringing Android apps to Windows, suddenly opening up a myriad of possibilities for touch-friendly Windows devices. Amazon’s App Store, used for its Fire tablets, would be available within the Microsoft Store, while Intel would be assisting with the backend technology.

Earlier this week, Microsoft revealed this technology would be rolling out in a public preview starting next month, although it’s been under testing via the Windows Insider Program for months now.

This reveal was further bolstered by Google’s announcement that it would bring Android games to Windows (via a ‘Google Play Games’ app), although it is apparently doing so without Microsoft’s help. And app stores aside, the Windows Subsystem for Android — the bit of software that runs all these Android apps — has opened up the door for users to sideload a myriad of apps that might not officially be available on Windows yet.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like there’s hope for Windows tablets having software that’s properly built for them.

Windows tablets have too few good apps

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been using Windows tablets all this time for a reason. There are certain conveniences afforded by the form factor — most the ability to handwrite notes and sketch out ideas and diagrams. I have no particular affinity for real pen and paper, but I do like being able to brainstorm and solve problems in the manner best afforded by handwriting. I like being able to grab my device, hold it in my arm and browse the web at a distance that is comfortable for my eyes and back alike.

But I also like having access to full-fledged, can-do-anything PC apps. That’s why I use Windows convertibles rather than an iPad. For most people, owning an iPad means that you also need another device for your ‘real’ work. You can get a whole lot done, but there comes a time when you eventually need to run more traditional PC apps.