Microsoft has made a preview version of its Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) available via the Microsoft Store in Windows 11.
“Installing WSL through the store will allow you to get the latest WSL updates and features faster, and without needing to modify your Windows version,” Microsoft’s Craig Loewen writes in the announcement post. “This is the exact same WSL that you know and love, all that we’ve changed is where it gets installed and updated from. We’ve created this as an initial preview to help ensure quality before making this generally available.”
To date, WSL has been installable only via the Windows Features control panel, which is about as hidden an interface as Windows provides. And the files needed to enable this feature have been included in the Windows install image, with WSL serviced as part of Windows.
But moving WSL to the Store makes sense: this decouples WSL from Windows from a servicing perspective, making it easier for Microsoft to deliver new features more quickly. And this version of WSL includes one very important new feature, WSLg, the Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI, which enables running X11- and Wayland-based Linux graphical apps.
To get started, install WSL from the Microsoft Store and then choose a distribution as before. (These have always been in the Store.) And if you’re already using WSL, no worries: you can run the Store version side-by-side with the version that came with Windows.