Microsoft has released a preview version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on the Microsoft Store for Windows 11 devices. The company is testing a new way to deliver updates for WSL, which separates them from core Windows updates. So far, WSL has been an optional feature for Windows 10 and 11, which you can install through the Settings app. However, that also means any updates to the WSL platform also had to be delivered through updates to Windows itself, meaning you’d have to wait a while for new features to arrive.
By making WSL available in the Microsoft Store, the company is now letting Windows 11 users receive updates – and thus, new features – more frequently. This is an approach Microsoft has taken with many of the inbox Windows apps and features in recent years. The most notable example is the Edge browser, which turned into a Chromium-based browser in 2020 and now gets updated just as often as Google Chrome or Firefox, allowing it to actually compete with those browsers.
In the case of WSL, this new Microsoft Store release already includes a few new features, including an updated Linux kernel (version 220.127.116.11), and WSLg being bundled in. WSLg is the component that allows you to run GUI Linux apps inside Windows, and setting it up could be a bit complicated before. Now, it’s just part of the app, which should make things much easier. Here’s everything that’s new in this release:
New features in WSL Preview on the Microsoft Store
- WSLg is now bundled as part of the WSL app!
--mount --vhdto make mounting VHD files easier.
- Implement filesystem detection for
wsl --mount. This change implements filesystem type detection if no
--typeis specified when using
wsl --mount. This change adds support for optionally naming a mountpoint when mounting a disk through WSL.
- Updated Linux kernel to 18.104.22.168
- Added progress indicator helper function used to show a Please Wait message with animated dots on the conversion process to show users that WSL is still running.
wsl --installto not require the
--distributionargument. This change switches
wsl --installto not require the
--distributionargument but maintains support to avoid breaking existing scripts.
wsl.exe --versioncommand which displays relevant version information
One thing that’s worth noting with this release is that it won’t support the original WSL 1 out of the box, so any Linux distros that haven’t been updated for WSL 2 will require the optional feature installed through the Settings app. Thankfully, you can use the Microsoft Store version of WSL and the optional feature at the same time, so this shouldn’t be much of a problem. Additionally, Microsoft has said it plans to address some of the complaints users have had with WSL 2 that make them prefer WSL 1 in some cases, so the former should become the definitive version in the future.
This could also be happening to help Microsoft set up for the Windows Subsystem for Android, which is based on WSL. This feature will allow users to run Android apps on Windows 11, and if it’s dependent on WSL, then this could be the road to enable Android apps on Windows 11 without a full update to the OS. The Windows Subsystem for Android has also been spotted on the Microsoft Store in the past, but we still don’t know when we’ll be able to test it.
If you’re interested, you can download the WSL preview from the Microsoft Store right now, as long as you’re running Windows 11.