Microsoft has released a preview version of Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 in the Microsoft Store. By disconnecting the subsystem from Windows, the company wants to roll out updates and new features faster. The app is currently only available for Windows 11.
Microsoft employee Craig Loewen clarifies in a blog post that this is not a new version of WSL2, but that some new features have been added to the preview version of WSL2. For example, Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI is now part of the app, there are new wsl.exe mount functions and the kernel has been updated to version 184.108.40.206. A progress indicator has also been added to be visible during projects.
The preview version supports WSL 1 distributions. According to Loewen, the built-in Linux subsystem of Windows still needs to be activated for this. After all, that still contains all drivers that control WSL 1 distros. Users who work with the built-in WSL by default can still use it. The preview app will take precedence.
The preview version is currently only available for Windows 11 users with version 22000. It is still unclear whether the app will also be released for Windows 10, although Loewen states that it is Microsoft’s intention to offer WSL via the Microsoft Store in the future.
Microsoft released Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 with the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. With the subsystem, Microsoft is targeting developers who want to use Linux tools within Windows, for example. Instead of a relatively simple compatibility layer, as with WSL1, the second version is based on a virtual machine in which a Microsoft-developed open source Linux kernel and the usermode of Linux run.