With WSL 2, has Windows merged with Linux?


While we all complain about the slow pace Windows 10 has progressed, Microsoft’s energy in building Windows sub-system for Linux is at a totally different level. I feel that Windows 10 is practically merged with Linux as the two operating systems work flawless together now. This has opened the opportunity for many developers, data scientists and AI professionals.

A natural question is where Microsoft is going from here. There are two possibilities. One is the two systems co-exist for the foreseeable future (say 10-20 years). The other is that Linux part will grow stronger and Windows part becomes weaker. Eventually, it becomes Linux that runs Windows apps.

Which is the likely outcome?

Comments (10)

10 responses to “With WSL 2, has Windows merged with Linux?”

  1. bill_strong

    Honestly, WSL 2 has an equivalent in linux, mainly OpenVZ. Using one kernel to host multiple instances. This lets Windows become somewhat competitive in this Hypervisor space, which are some of the cheapest vms on the market. Now, it isn't super lucrative, but you don't dedicate a full machine to only this, this allows Windows to become a one stop shop for Windows and Linux emulation, which pretty much covers the gamut of the cloud possibilities for businesses.

    Now, at the same time, you can build on the same environment you are coding on, so devs like that as do sysops guys.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Bill_Strong:

      Microsoft already has HyperV under Windows for virtualisation and it has Docker and Kubernetes support...

      WSL2 isn't a replacement for a full VM and you don't have encapsulation, because Linux has full access to all of the Windows data.

      It depends on what you want from WSL2, whether it is better or worse than running a VM in HyperV. I have both and use the HyperV VMs for most things.

  2. wright_is

    Until you can get corporates to re-invest millions for their legacy software, they aren't going to go away from Windows Kernel and Win32 support.

    There is just too much invested for Windows to ever really move forward, whether it be ARM processors or a Linux kernel.

    Most big companies have invested several million in bespoke software that only runs on Windows (or even old mainframes, which is the same problem on a different platform). The software was written for Windows 9x or XP and might, if you are lucky, run on Windows 10 on a good day.

    Heck, we have a sign printer (laminated plastic and metal signs for our production plants) that only runs under MS-DOS, we keep old PCs kicking around to keep MS-DOS running on them, just in case the old PC dies (last time was 8 years ago). The printer still works and a replacement printer would cost high 5 to low 6 figures.

  3. bdollerup

    IMHO, we will like never see Windows as Linux that run Windows applications. To wright_is's point, we already have a Windows HyperVisor that allows most Linux distribution to run on Windows and Microsoft will continue to improve their support for both virtualization and containerization. I don't see why their should or would want to re-build the Windows kernel. The Windows kernel/architecture harkens back to the Mach micro-kernel architecture that AIX and other UNIX variants also choose, but it's not UNIX or Linux!

  4. alsorun

    Thanks to all who replied. One concrete example is: I can run R and Rstudio both directly under Windows or under WSL. R under Windows uses multicores better. If most people run R under WSL, then the Windows version will become even less competitive.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I'm not sure that the fate of R weighs heavily here. This is about giving Windows users, in this case developers, the tools they need to stick with Windows.
  5. F4IL

    This premise is false and is not about turning Windows into Linux. msft created WSL to entice developers and administrators to stick with Windows as a first class platform for their particular workloads: managing servers of all sorts, devops, containers etc. In order to keep these people from adopting competing platforms, msft has to cover their needs, which is what WSL and their 180 on open-source is all about.