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Microsoft Announces New Windows Subsystem for Linux Improvements

Microsoft is very committed to the Linux world these days, and needless to say, improving the Windows Subsystem for Linux has become a priority in the long term.

After announcing several major improvements at the Build developer conference earlier this year, Microsoft is now back with additional details and new features to discuss how the experience with WSL is being improved for everybody on Windows 10.

First and foremost, it’s the WSL 2 release, which originally took place on Windows 10 version 2004, or the May 2020 Update, exclusively. Microsoft has already confirmed that WSL 2 would go live for more users, and the company confirms in this new blog post that those on Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909 would be getting it too.

“We’ve heard feedback on how many users have enjoyed using WSL 2 and have made WSL 2 available to more Windows users with this backport. Customers running Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909 can now enjoy faster file system performance, 100% system call compatibility, and be able to use Docker Desktop with the WSL2-based engine,” Craig Loewen, Program Manager, Windows Developer Platform, explains.

Microsoft also announced earlier this year that GUI app support is coming to WSL, and now Loewen reveals that the work on this feature is nearly complete.

In other words, you’ll soon be able to run Linux apps in WSL in their own dedicated UI, thus making the experience overall feel more native. A demo that Microsoft provided shows Microsoft Teams running in WSL, so yes, you can stay productive even on the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

“WSL will support many different types of applications, including IDEs running fully in a Linux environment. We have included lots of fit and finish details, such as showing the icons for Linux apps in the task bar and support for audio with your microphone,” Loewen notes.

Microsoft is also rolling out support for the wsl –install command in WSL, which was also announced at the Build developer conference this year.

This command allows you to fully install WSL, and Microsoft explains that it’s rolling it out to users running Windows Insider builds on their devices gradually. More refinements would be released soon, so users would eventually be able to enable WSL on their device and install a specific distro with just one command.

One big change that’s not concerning just Windows insiders is the release of Linux kernel versions on Windows Update. Announced with much fanfare at the Build conference, this feature is now live for everybody, so Linux kernel versions are finally updated automatically just like the Windows operating system in the first place.

“You can have greater control over your Linux kernel version, as well as your Windows version, enabling you to stay safe and secure as Windows keeps you up to date. The new kernel versions are no longer only for Windows Insiders, now any device that has WSL enabled and has opted in to Microsoft Updates will automatically receive the latest kernel version!” Loewen continues.

Needless to say, all these improvements show that Microsoft is fully committed to improving the experience with WSL, and all the updates that the company announced at its developer conference are now gradually rolling out. It’ll obviously take a while until everything is ready, but if you want to try out new features in advance, the best way to do it is to just join the Windows Insider program where you can get a taste of what’s to come in terms of the Windows experience in advance.

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