Last year, at Build 2020, Microsoft said that it was working on bringing Linux apps to Windows 10 with GUI support. Windows 10 has supported various Linux features and functionality with its subsystem for Linux for a couple of years but missing from the toolset was the ability to use apps that required a GUI.
That changes today with the release of Windows 10 Build 21364, this release is the first preview that enables support for GUI applications. This is another big milestone for utilizing Linux tools on Windows and is going to be a welcomed update to the OS when this feature ships later this year.
When Microsoft set out to bring Linux features to Windows, one of the primary goals was to attract developers who had left Windows because the open-source OS had tools that were not available on Windows. With this latest update, this closes one of the last remaining items about why a developer may choose Linux over Windows for their development needs and makes the OS more flexible too.
With native support by Windows, this means that you can give true hardware acceleration and audio/microphone support is included out of the box. Microsoft enables this feature by spinning up a companion distribution of Linux and it is confined to the application that you are running – so when you close the app, the distro shuts down as well.
This is a big step towards closing the gap between software available on Linux and apps on Windows 10. While it is still the early days of the feature being available, considering that it is now possible to natively run Linux applications in Windows without a third-party server or tool, this should make it much easier to get apps up and running quickly.
If you want to test out the new feature, download the latest Windows Insider build from Windows Update.