Microsoft plans to release a public preview of its Android apps for Windows 11 next month, along with some improvements to the taskbar, notepad apps, and a redesigned media player.

Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer for Windows Devices, explained the upcoming changes to Windows 11 in a blog post. It appears to be part of the first major OS update.

Panay oversees the development of Surface products and related devices, along with the Windows operating system.

Taskbar improvements include muting and unmuting, and possibly the ability to show the clock on secondary screens.

These features were not present at the launch of Windows 11. However, Microsoft is still working on improving the taskbar further to bring back missing functions such as drag and drop.

The operating system also includes a weather widget that returns to the taskbar, something Microsoft began testing last month.

Microsoft is also redesigning the Notepad and media player apps. Both feature dark modes and design tweaks that closely match Windows 11.

Android apps are the big new addition. Panay says the trial comes in the form of a public preview, noting that the feature remains in beta when it becomes widely available next month.

Microsoft first began testing cross-platform Android apps with testers in October. The feature allows you to install a limited number of apps from Amazon’s Appstore.

There are a variety of solutions to run Google Play Store on Windows 11. But Microsoft does not officially support this.

There are a set of solutions to run the Google Play Store via Windows 11

Banai also shared a variety of stats about how important Windows has been over the past two years. Windows 10 and Windows 11 are now running on 1.4 billion devices each month. The PC market has seen strong growth throughout the pandemic.

We see three permanent trends behind this shift in demand for and use of personal computers:

  • The rise in hybrid work and learning.
  • Shifts in entertainment habits and distribution models.
  • Changing consumer habits for daily tasks

Microsoft also says it has seen a 6-fold increase in the number of people using apps like Cisco WebEx, Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

Next month’s Windows 11 update also makes it easier to share your screen in Microsoft Teams and other video calling apps.

In addition, a new tab appears when you hover over applications such as Microsoft Teams via the taskbar. The new tab allows you to quickly share window content in a call.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of people streaming content on Hulu, Netflix and YouTube on Windows has increased by 70 percent, Panay explains. Monthly minutes of gameplay grew by more than 35 percent.

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