Today the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) in the Microsoft Store is dropping its “Preview” label and becomes generally available with our latest release! We are also making the Store version of WSL the default for new users who run wsl –install and easily upgradeable by running wsl –update for existing users. Using the Store version of WSL allows you to get updates to WSL much faster compared to when it was a Windows component.
In response to the WSL community’s requests, WSL in the Store will now also be available on Windows 10 in addition to Windows 11. So, Windows 10 users will also be able to enjoy all of the latest features for WSL including systemd and Linux GUI app support!
What’s new in the Store version of WSL?
There are 100s of bug fixes and improvements that you can read through on our release notes page to see all the improvements that we’ve put into the Store version of WSL. In this blog post I’ll highlight some of the significant changes that you might see as a user upgrading to the Store version for the first time.
You can opt in for systemd support
Windows 10 users can now use Linux GUI apps! This was previously only available to Windows 11 users
wsl –install now includes:
Direct installation from the Microsoft Store by default
–no-launch option to not launch the distro after installing
–web-download option which will download the distro through our GitHub releases page rather than through the Microsoft Store
wsl –mount now includes:
–vhd option to make mounting VHD files easier
–name option to make naming the mountpoint easier
wsl –import and wsl –export now include:
–vhd option to import or export to a VHD directly
Added wsl –import-in-place to take an existing .vhdx file and register it as a distro
Added wsl –version to print your version information more easily
wsl –update now includes:
Opening the Microsoft Store page by default
–web-download option to allow updates from our GitHub release page
Better error printing
All of WSLg and the WSL kernel are packaged into the same WSL package, meaning no more extra MSI installs!
The Store version of WSL is now the default version of WSL
As part of this release, we are also backporting WSL functionality to Windows 10 and 11 to make the Store version of WSL the default experience. These changes are:
wsl.exe –install will now automatically install the Store version of WSL, and will no longer enable the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” optional component, or install the WSL kernel or WSLg MSI packages as they are no longer needed (The Virtual machine platform optional component will still be enabled, and by default Ubuntu will still be installed).
wsl.exe –install` also now includes:
–inbox Installs WSL using the optional Windows component instead of using the Microsoft Store
–enable-wsl1 Enables WSL 1 support during the install of the Microsoft Store version by also enabling the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” optional component
–no-distribution Do not install a distribution when installing WSL
–no-launch Do not automatically launch the distro after install
–web-download Download the most recent version of WSL from the internet instead of the Microsoft Store.
wsl.exe –update will now check for and apply updates for the WSL MSIX package from the Microsoft Store, rather than updating the WSL kernel MSI
When running WSL using the Windows optional component version, once a week we will show a message on start up indicating that you can upgrade to the Store version by running wsl –update.
How to get the latest generally available version
The easiest way to get all these improvements is to get the latest backport. Currently it is available to seekers only, and will be pushed automatically to devices in mid-December. To get this update please go to Windows Settings and click “Check for Updates”. If you see a message saying a new update is available please install it. You will need to be running Windows 10 version 21H1, 21H2, or 22H2, or on Windows 11 21H2 with all of the November updates applied. You will know you have this update when you check that KB5020030 is installed on Windows 10, or KB5019157 on Windows 11.
Once you have the right Windows version, if you’re a new user you can just run wsl –install and you will be set up right away to use WSL. If you’re an existing user run wsl –update to update to the latest Store version. You can always check if you’re on the Store version by running wsl –version which will show you the version number, and will fail if you’re using the in-Windows version of WSL.
Alternatively you can also visit our releases page on GitHub to see the latest WSL builds and install them manually.
These are the current known issues for users that are in the Store version of WSL, but not in the inbox version:
When running in session 0 session (Such as inside of a GitHub action, or when SSHing into the Windows machine) the Store version of WSL will not start
What this means for WSL 1 and the in-Windows version of WSL
Support for running WSL 1 distros still requires the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” optional component. This can be enabled during install by running wsl –install –enable-wsl1, or manually at anytime. Additionally, the in-Windows version of WSL will still receive critical bug fixes, but the Store version of WSL is where new features and functionality will be added.
Understanding WSL names
Now with the Store version of WSL, there are a lot of names to keep track of! Here’s the clear explanation on them. There are two types of WSL distros: “WSL 1”, and “WSL 2” type distros. These matter for how your distro runs and behaves, as they have different architectures. WSL 2 distros have faster file system performance and use a real Linux kernel, but require virtualization. You can learn more about WSL 1 and WSL 2 distros here. There is also the “in-Windows” version of WSL as a Windows Optional component, and WSL in the Microsoft Store as the “Store version of WSL”. These matter for how WSL is serviced on your machine, and what latest updates and features you’ll get. This is just a change on how WSL is serviced, the user experience and product is the same. Learn more here.
With this update our goal is to simplify our versioning story. Since WSL 2 is the default distro type, and the Store version of WSL is the default install location, you can just say: WSL is an app in the Microsoft Store that lets you run actual Linux that integrates directly into Windows.
If you find technical issues please file them at the WSL GitHub repo, and for general questions the WSL team and I are on Twitter. Check out our WSL docs for tutorials, best practices and more info on how to use WSL. Our goal is to move as many people as we can to use the Store version of WSL, as it gives the best experience with the latest features. We look forwards to hearing your feedback, and thank you for supporting us. Happy coding!