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Zorin OS simplifies the task of installing Windows apps on Linux. Here's how

We'll show you how to use the Zorin OS Windows App Support feature, so you can have your cake and eat it, too.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Woman looking at a laptop
d3sign/Getty Images

Zorin OS might well be one of the finest Linux distributions on the market. Not only is it easy on the eyes, but it's also easy on the mind. Zorin OS is one of the few Linux desktop distributions that makes anyone coming from any other operating system right at home. Windows user? You're good. MacOS fan, Zorin OS has a desktop layout just for you.

With a well-designed interface and all the tools you need to be productive and entertained, Zorin OS makes a strong case for the best distribution for all types of users, whether you're a fan of open-source or not.

Also: 8 things you can on Linux that you can't do on MacOS or Windows 

One of the features that sets Zorin OS apart from so many other Linux distributions is the recently introduced Windows App Support. 

This feature includes a database that is used to:

  • Detect Windows installer files.
  • Provide help with installing apps.
  • Recommend native alternatives.

According to the lead Zorin OS developer, Artyom Zorin, "These improvements help take the guesswork out of running your favorite apps and games, regardless of which platform they were originally developed for." 

Also: How to replace Windows with Linux Mint on your PC

I'll show you the ins and outs of the Windows App Support feature found in Zorin OS 16.2. 

One thing to keep in mind is the "magic" behind this rests on the shoulders of the Wine compatibility layer and PlayOnLinux. If you're unfamiliar with Wine, all you need to know is that it is a special piece of software you normally have to install on Linux to make it possible to run Windows applications without the Windows OS. Zorin OS comes with Wine pre-installed. 

Also: How to run a Windows app on Linux with Wine

On top of that, it adds PlayOnLinux to make it even easier to play Windows games on Linux. It also adds a few extra "tricks" on top of that, but the hard work of the Wine and PlayOnLinux developers have helped to make this possible.

How to simplify the installation of Windows apps with Zorin OS 


The only thing you'll need for this is a running instance of Zorin OS 16.2. You can deploy this either on a computer or laptop or even run it as a virtual machine. You can download either the Pro ($39.00) or the Core (Free) version of the OS. If your machine is particularly old, you can opt to go the Lite route (also free).

1. Open the Windows App Support

Log in to Zorin OS and click on the Zorin OS "Z" icon at the bottom left corner of the desktop. Click System Tools > Windows App Support.

The Windows App Support entry in the Zorin menu.

The Zorin OS 16.2 includes Windows App Support added by default.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Install Windows App Support

On the first run, the app store will open where you can click Install to add Windows App Support to Zorin OS.

Also: Want to save your aging computer? Try these 5 Linux distributions

You'll be prompted for your user password for the installation to continue. Once the installation is done, close the app store.

The Windows App Support installer.

Installing Windows App Support is but a click away.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Open PlayOnLinux

Click the Z menu again, click Windows Apps, and then click PlayOnLinux. In the resulting window, click Install and a new window will appear to display all of the Windows apps that can be easily installed on Zorin OS.

4. Install a Windows app

Locate an app to install, select it, and click Install. Do note that some applications will require a CD for installation. Once you've clicked Install, a new wizard will open to install the application. During the installation, a virtual drive will be created and if any remaining pieces need to be installed, it will be taken care of automatically. 

The PlayOnLinux main window.

All of the apps you can install via PlayOnLinux.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Once the app is installed, you'll find it listed in the Z menu where you can launch and use it.

An even easier method

Because the Zorin OS Windows App Support feature works to detect Windows installer files, you can simply download an .exe installer to your local drive and double-click on it to launch the installation. If you don't find an app you want to install within PlayOnLinux, just download it to your Downloads folder and double-click it. Not only is this method simpler, but it's also faster. The only caveat is you have to find the download for the app in question.

Also: It's time for open-source users to open their wallets

It doesn't matter which way you go. With the help of Windows App Support in Zorin OS 16.2, you can have your cake and eat it, too, because you can use a more reliable and secure operating system while also running Windows apps.

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