Microsoft brings WSL 2 to older Windows 10 versions

Linux code on a black background

Microsoft has announced that it's backporting Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2 to Windows 10 versions 1903 and 1909.

WSL 2 debuted in the Windows 10 version 2004 (May 2020 Update) and brought with brought with it a full Linux kernel, improved system call support for all Linux apps, and improved file system performance.

Microsoft said it's decided to bring WSL 2 based to more Windows 10 users based on "great customer feedback", adding that it's been working for a "few months" to bring the updated architecture to the enterprise customers still relying on pre-2020 versions of Windows 10.

"We heard how much you liked WSL 2 and wanted to expand its accessibility, and over the last few months we worked on bringing it back to 1903 and 1909," Microsoft said.

Windows 10 versions 1903 and 1909 are currently the most popular versions of the OS and are being run on close to 80% of devices, according to AdDuplex. This likely influenced Microsoft's decision to backport WSL 2, along with the fact that support for 1909 does not end until May 2021.

Windows 10 builds 18362.1049 and 18363.1049 are now rolling out to all users in order to enable support for WSL 2. If it's not yet showing on your machine, you can also manually download it from Microsoft's Update Catalog.

However, Microsoft notes that WSL 2 is currently only available for x64 systems on Windows 10 version 1909 and 1903. If you're using an ARM64 devices, such as the Surface Pro X, you'll need to upgrade to Windows 10 version 2004 to access WSL 2.

Carly Page

Carly Page is a freelance technology journalist, editor and copywriter specialising in cyber security, B2B, and consumer technology. She has more than a decade of experience in the industry and has written for a range of publications including Forbes, IT Pro, the Metro, TechRadar, TechCrunch, TES, and WIRED, as well as offering copywriting and consultancy services. 

Prior to entering the weird and wonderful world of freelance journalism, Carly served as editor of tech tabloid The INQUIRER from 2012 and 2019. She is also a graduate of the University of Lincoln, where she earned a degree in journalism.

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