Google’s surprise Android 13 Dev Preview launch gave us a ton of early information on the operating system, including some of its crazy new features. But there’s one Android 13 feature that Google hasn’t spent a lot of time talking about—a new, standardized system for virtualization that lets you run Windows 11 on a phone or tablet.
Virtualization is a complicated, esoteric topic. But here’s the gist; with virtualization, you can run an OS within another OS. Mac users with a virtual machine, such as Parallels, can run Windows on their desktop like it’s a regular old app. And thanks to Google’s new virtualization standards, Android 13 users do the same thing on their phone or tablet. (You can read a more detailed explanation at How-To Geek.)
As documented by Android developer kdrag0n, Google’s new virtualization system already works quite well in the Android 13 Dev Preview. It doesn’t support hardware acceleration, so it ain’t perfect, but it lets you use Windows 11 on a mobile device without much fuss.
— kdrag0n (@kdrag0n) February 13, 2022
This is quite an achievement from Google. Since its inception, Android users have criticized the OS for its fragmentation, and Android virtual machines have been extremely fragmented. With Android 13, Google is using pKVM (protected kernel virtualization mechanism) and the Chromebook crosvm manager to standardize virtualization throughout Android.
Additionally, this standardized system will let Android virtualize instances of … well, Android. Mishaal Rahman of Esper documented this idea in a detailed blog post late last year. While Google’s motivation for virtualizing instances of Android within Android is still unclear, Rahman speculates that it may increase device security when compiling data.
The idea of running Windows 11 and other operating systems within Android 13 is fun, but the benefits are still a bit unclear. At the very least, Google may find a way to make Linux apps work on Android, or as Mishaal Rahman notes, virtualization could automatically isolate sensitive tasks and increase user security.
And yes, Windows 11 on Android 13 runs Doom.