Microsoft has announced that it’s making it easier to install WSL on Windows 10 — albeit only on systems where the feature isn’t currently enabled.

A few weeks back I wrote a post on how to install WSL 2 on Windows 10 in the May 2020 Update (though this is on pause for the moment). That guide is still valid. Those of you who want to take full advantage of all the new WSL 2 features like GPU support and the use of a real Linux kernel should follow along.

Microsoft has revealed that WSL is used by 3.5 million “active” monthly devices

But I won’t lie: that method is a bit …steppy.

So Microsoft has decided to make things a bit simpler.

The corporation’s dedicated WSL team is introducing a wsl.exe --install command. Windows 10 users can run this from (presumably) the cmd prompt utility or the flashy new open source Windows Terminal.

“In this initial release, this command will enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux optional component, as well as the Virtual Machine Platform optional component, and prompt you to restart your machine,” says Microsoft’s Craig Loewen.

For now the new wsl.exe --install command is available on Windows Insider Preview Build 20150 or later.

Microsoft says it is also making WSL 2 the default version of WSL for new installations (which cuts out another step, though the command to opt for WSL 1 will remain available). It is also adding a kernel update command: wsl.exe --update to make installing new kernel versions accessible from where the kernel is actually used,

The new streamlined command isn’t entirely input-proof, though. It doesn’t, for instance, install a Linux distro (like Ubuntu), though Microsoft says it hopes to add support for this soon.

But I think it’s a welcome step nonetheless, especially with Microsoft revealing that WSL is now used on a staggering 3.5 million “active” monthly devices — impressive, right?

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