Users of Windows 10 now have access to the most recent version of Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which is one of the biggest reasons to run Windows 11. With this 1.0 release, WSL abandoned the “preview” moniker and will simplify installation.
Installing substantial, system-level Windows upgrades used to be required to obtain the best version of WSL. However, Microsoft has moved the most feature-rich version of WSL to its Store as part of a huge effort to move important software there. Windows Developer Platform Program Manager Craig Loewen stated in a blog post that “the in-Windows version of WSL will continue to receive important bug fixes, but the Store version of WSL is where new features and capabilities will be deployed.”
According to Loewen, Microsoft decided to give Windows 10 users access to the most recent, GUI-ready framework version in response to the “requests of the WSL community.” So even if you install and update WSL via the command line (PowerShell), a Store installation is now the default. Now that graphical apps and (optional) system support are available, anyone with a system that can run WSL should spend less time trying to figure out which WSL version they have, what they require, and how the versions differ.
Even Microsoft is aware that there are numerous versions of WSL in use. There are Linux distributions for WSL 1 and WSL 2, respectively. The in-Windows version of WSL and the version available in stores are enabled as “optional components” in Windows. This upgrade should “simplify our versioning story,” according to Loewen. The Store install and the default distribution version are both WSL 2. It’s how Linux is used in conjunction with Windows directly.
It was extremely impressive to have Linux apps functioning in Windows after installation (even if they complained quite a bit about various dependencies and warnings). Now that it is available in the Microsoft Store, it should be simpler to switch to Linux for those who require that one particular utility that Windows does not provide or who are simply interested in it without wishing to do the full partition-and-dual-boot path.