Microsoft has just made the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) available in the Microsoft Store for Windows 11 systems. WSL is the application that allows Windows users to run a GNU\/Linux environment directly on Windows without the overhead of a virtual machine or dual-boot setup.\nOne good aspect is that it installs as a separate app, decoupled from the OS. This means that users can update the app without having to wait for Windows OS updates to become available.\n\nThe app in the Microsoft Store is not a new version of WSL. It\u2019s still WSL 2, but is a preview version that was added as an option for end users to get the latest features faster and more conveniently. The binaries will no longer be part of the Windows image.\nIf you\u2019re not familiar with WSL 2, it\u2019s a major overhaul of the underlying WSL architecture and uses virtualization and a Linux kernel to enable new features. This increases file-system performance and supports full system-call compatibility. To install and use WSL from the Store, users need to be running Windows 11 build 22000 or higher.\nNew features include that WSLg (the GUI that supports running Linux applications) is now bundled with it. In addition, mounting virtual hard-disk image files will be easier, file system type detection is available, and mount-point naming through WSL is supported. They\u2019ve also added a progress bar to provide feedback on long installs. The Linux kernel has been updated to 22.214.171.124.\nWhile the subsystem for Linux must be enabled for WSL 1, it does not for the Store\u2019s WSL 2 because it remains separate from the Windows image. In addition, Linux GUI apps will already be installed\u2014everything you need in one package.\nUsers also will have no requirement to remove anything from their systems. They will still have the option to run an older installed version of WSL.\nWhy a \u201cpreview?\nAt this point, Microsoft is leaning toward eventually moving everyone to the Store version for a better user experience, faster updates and no need to update their OS. User response will drive where they go next. The company\u2019s motivation is to help ensure quality before making this option generally available and to gauge user response.\nAnyone running an older version of WSL can run a command like this to view its release:\nC:WINDOWSsystem32>wsl -l -v\n NAME STATE VERSION\n* Legacy Running 1\n Ubuntu Stopped 1\n Ubuntu-18.04 Stopped 1\n\nMicrosoft has handy release notes for the app that are worth a look. In addition, the app is free, so this might be a good time to tell Windows users they can give Linux a try without making a long-term commitment.