Download Windows Subsystem for Linux app from the Windows 11 Microsoft Store

WSL Microsoft Store

Microsoft's embracing of Linux has been slow but steady, and nowhere is this more evident than with Window Subsystem for Linux -- or WSL. Now, a new WSL app has just been released to the Microsoft Store for Windows 11 users.

With this latest release, the company is bringing Windows Subsystem for Linux to a much wider audience. Previously only available as an optional component of Windows itself, in launching a separate WSL app, Microsoft is massively increasing the visibility of the much-loved tool.

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Microsoft had recently taken steps that made it much easier to install WSL, but releasing it as an app is another change to how it is made available, and how it can be updated. This release is being classed as a preview, and while the are changes and additions, the app is currently really just a way of ensuring that future updates are rolled out and installed faster

In a blog post about the change, Microsoft explains:

There are two big reasons to be excited for this change: You can get access to WSL features faster, and you don't have to worry about changing your Windows version when getting the latest WSL updates.

Traditionally, WSL has been installed as an optional component inside of Windows. This means that you would go to the "Turn Windows Features on or off" dialogue to enable it, requiring you to restart your machine. The actual binaries that make up WSL's logic in that optional component are part of the Windows image, and are serviced and updated as part of Windows itself.

This change moves those binaries from being part of the Windows image, to instead being part of an application that you install from the Store. This decouples WSL from your Windows version, allowing you to update through the Microsoft Store instead. So now once new features like GUI app support, GPU compute, and Linux file system drive mounting are developed, tested and ready for a release you will get access to it right away on your machine without needing to update your entire Windows OS, or going to Windows Insider preview builds.

Changes to WSL include updating the Linux kernel, and Microsoft shares the following hightlights:

  • WSLg is now bundled as part of the WSL app!
  • New wsl.exe --mount features!
    • Add --mount --vhd to make mounting VHD files easier.
    • Implement filesystem detection for wsl --mount. This change implements filesystem type detection if no --type is specified when using wsl.exe --mount.
    • Add --name feature to wsl --mount. This change adds support for optionally naming a mountpoint when mounting a disk through WSL.
  • Updated Linux kernel to 5.10.60.1
  • 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.
  • Switched wsl --install to not require the --distribution argument. This change switches wsl --install to not require the --distribution argument but maintains support to avoid breaking existing scripts.
  • Added wsl.exe --version command which displays relevant version information

In order to install Windows Subsystem for Linux from the Microsoft Store, you need to be running Windows 11 build 22000 or higher and also have the Virtual Machine Platform optional component enabled.

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