Microsoft makes Windows Subsystem for Linux a Windows 11 app

The logs of a Linux server as shown on a display
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Microsoft has shifted its Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) to the Microsoft Store for Windows 11 and is previewing it now.

This is the same version of WSL that was available for prior versions of Windows, explained Microsoft, but the operating system (OS) has traditionally included it only as an optional component during installation. Installing it separately from the store decouples it from the Windows update cycle, meaning you don't have to wait to update your OS to get the latest WSL version.

The company is working on WSL features that users can get immediately on release without installing Windows Insider preview builds.

The preview has some of these new features, including Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI (WSLg), which allows users to run Linux GUI applications under the X11 and Wayland windowing systems. It also has new options for mounting hard drives formatted under Linux into the WSL, detecting the file system, and optionally naming mount points.

The company has also included support for GPU computation within the Linux subsystem, which it says opens up opportunities for machine learning (ML) development. It now also runs on version of the Linux kernel.

To use WSL, Windows 11 users must have build 22000 or higher and the optional Virtual Machine Platform component enabled.

"Our goals are to make WSL in the Microsoft Store the best way to install and use WSL, as you’ll be able to get the latest updates fastest through that route, and in the long term we’d like to move WSL users to use the store version," the company said. "However, in Windows 11 we are still supporting the inbox version of WSL as we keep developing WSL in the store."

Keeping the inbox version enables WSL version 1 users to keep using the store version. They must enable WSL as an optional component in Windows because the drivers for that version of the Linux subsystem are closely tied to the Windows operating system.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.