WSL is Now Available in the Microsoft Store in Preview

Posted on October 11, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 14 Comments

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.

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Comments (14)

14 responses to “WSL is Now Available in the Microsoft Store in Preview”

  1. proftheory

    The Thing I'm looking for isn't here.

    That is all I get.

  2. Shel Dyck

    this implies wsl2 will be different between win10 and 11 and that's not cool.

    • hrlngrv

      Why not?

      Must virtualization subsystems be the same for Windows 10 and Windows 11? If not, then since WSL2 uses virtualization, why couldn't the Windows 11 variant take advantage of features Windows 11 may have that Windows 10 lacks?

  3. wright_is

    The problem is... I don't have a Store on my Windows 10 PC...

    • navarac

      As you're running Linux on your primary PC it's no loss....LOL

      • wright_is

        Yes, but our work PCs are Windows and don't have Store access...

        • simont

          There is a PowerShell command which allows you to download store apps without going through. I don't remember it off the top of my head but your favorite search engine should be able to find it.

        • hrlngrv

          If your work PC lacks Store access, that's your employer's policy, no? As in, your employer gets to decide what's on the PCs they own, no? So, at work, you shouldn't need to access anything in the MSFT Store because you're almost certainly prohibited from installing anything from there by your employer's IT policy, no?

          At home, if you're running Linux, what could you use that's in the MSFT Store? If you're running a Windows VM on a Linux host system at home, the VM should have the Store app.

          • wright_is

            Yes and no. The store is blocked, but as administrators, we can add and remove Windows features (the current method) to add WSL. Moving it to the store means we will no longer have access.

            It also causes problems with things like sticky notes and the calculator. They disappeared on a few machines and we can't re-install them, because they are now in the Store. This will include Paint and Notepad going forward, as well.

  4. dnationsr

    i have installed twice and does nothing

  5. hrlngrv

    | To date, WSL has been installable only via the Windows Features control panel,

    | which is about as hidden an interface as Windows provides.

    You've mentioned the possibility of MSFT adding a dashboard to Windows to pick and choose features. How do you imaging such a dashboard differing from the existing Features dialog/applet? Or is it just how to access it from a link in the Programs & Features section in Control Panel? Contrarian: what could possibly go wrong for the majority of relatively uninformed Windows users if the Features dialog/applet were easier to find?

    OTOH, if MSFT's long-term goal is removing Features and putting EVERYTHING in the Store, fine. Digression: would everything moving to the store mean it'd no longer have local backups under C:\Windows\WinSxS? If so, VERY GOOD! I wonder when EUDCEDIT.EXE and the Telnet client will move to the Store.