For a certain kind of person, the new additions to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) are some of the best features in Windows 11. And Microsoft has announced that new WSL features will be even easier to get in the future. The company has posted a preview version of WSL to the Microsoft Store so that Windows 11 users can download and update WSL independently of other Windows updates.
Many of Windows’ built-in apps have already moved to being updated through the Microsoft Store rather than through regular Windows Updates. This gives the company more flexibility when deciding when to update apps, though one side effect has been that many of Windows 11’s pre-installed apps still haven’t been fully updated for Windows 11. But long-term, it also means you don’t need to wait for a new Windows update to benefit from updated apps.
For WSL, this means you won’t need to install major, potentially disruptive Windows updates (like, say, Windows 11) just to take advantage of new WSL additions. Microsoft specifically calls out “GUI app support, GPU compute, and Linux file system drive mounting” as the kinds of major features that can be added via Microsoft Store updates, in addition to less flashy updates like new Linux kernel versions.
For now, the Microsoft Store version of WSL is just a “preview,” and the officially supported version you should use for important things is still the one that’s built into Windows. But the long-term goal is for the Store version of WSL to be “the best way to install and use WSL.” Microsoft will take user feedback into account when deciding what to do with the built-in, non-Store version of WSL in future Windows releases.
Microsoft’s post doesn’t mention whether WSL will eventually be available in the Microsoft Store for Windows 10 users who otherwise may not be entitled to updated WSL features. We’ve asked Microsoft about this and will provide an update if we receive a response.