Microsoft support for Linux GUI apps on Windows 10 coming later this year

Microsoft's Build 2021 event doesn't have a whole lot of Windows-specific news, but there are some tidbits of potential interest to Windows developers, especially those wanting to run Linux apps on Windows.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is making the promised support for Linux graphical user interface (GUI) apps on Windows 10 available to customers as of the next Windows 10 release, officials said on May 25. Microsoft officials made the announcement on Day 1 of its virtual Build 2021 developers conference.

There isn't a whole lot of Windows-focused development news at Build this week, but that may be by design. Microsoft is rumored to be planning a dedicated Windows event later this summer (and possibly next month) where it will talk about what's next for Windows. Microsoft is expected to begin detailing the changes it is making in Windows with its Sun Valley UX refresh at that event. Officials have hinted that they want to put Windows in the limelight this year to prove that Windows is back and Microsoft is still investing in the platform.

Update: During his Day 1 keynote, CEO Satya Nadella basically acknowledged there will be another event "soon" about the next Windows. He said: "And soon we will share one of the most significant updates of Windows of the past decade." He said he has been self-hosting it over the past several months and called it "the next generation of Windows."  

There still was a bit of Windows-related news at Build, however. 

Microsoft released a preview of Linux GUI apps on the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) in April 2021. This capability is meant to allow developers to run their preferred Linux tools, utilities, and apps directly on Windows 10. With GUI app support, users can now run GUI apps for testing, development, and daily use without having to set up a virtual machine. 

Microsoft officials said these Linux GUI apps on WSL capability are now "generally available," but this seems to be a very liberal use of the term "GA," as it's still only for Insider testers with preview builds 21362 or higher (according to the team's GitHub). As far as we know,  this capability will come to Windows 10 mainstream users as of the next Windows 10 release later this year. I've asked for official clarification; no word back so far.

Microsoft also announced that WSL now includes support for applications that can leverage users' GPUs on Windows. They say this will enable customers to run Linux AI and machine learning scenarios right inside WSL, meaning users can run the same ML tools they use in Linux on Windows. 

Microsoft also released today its Windows Terminal 1.9 preview, which includes a new feature called Quake Mode. Quake Mode lets users quickly open a new terminal window from anywhere in Windows with a keyboard shortcut. 

Microsoft is releasing the 0.8 version of its Project Reunion software development kit. Project Reunion is the way Microsoft is hoping to unify its Windows development platform, removing the Universal Windows Platform/Win32 divide it created when it launched Windows 8. Microsoft is planning to release the 1.0 version of Project Reunion this fall.

In semi-related developer news, Microsoft is releasing .NET 6 Preview 4 today. The sixth version of .NET will bring support for developers building native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android with a single codebase via .NET MAUI (Multi-purpose App UI), the updated Xamarin Forms technology. the latest test build now works with Visual Studio. And the Visual Studio 2019 16.10 release also is now generally available. As officials said previously, the first preview builds of Visual Studio 2022 will be available later this summer. The roadmap for Visual Studio 2022 is available here.

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