New Windows 10 test build adds first preview of Linux GUI apps on WSL

A year ago, Microsoft officials announced plans to bring support for Linux GUI apps to Windows 10. A first preview of this feature is part of Dev Channel test build 21364.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Micrsosoft

On April 21, Microsoft released a new Windows 10 test build, 21364, to the Dev Channel. This build includes a few new noteworthy features including the ability to run Linux graphical user interface (GUI) apps on Windows using the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2).

Microsoft is making its first preview of support for Linux GUI applications, including editors and tools, for those who want to develop, test, build, and run their apps. Microsoft officials said at Build 2020 last spring that it intended to bring Linux GUI apps to Windows. (It's calling this feature WSLg.)

Up until now, WSL has focused on allowing users to enable command-line tools, utilities, and apps, but not GUI apps. WSLg will let users run various Linux IDEs on their Windows machines, including gedit, JetBrains-based editors, gvim, and more, officials said. Users also can use WSLg to run any GUI app that might exist only in Linux or o test GUI apps in a Linux environment.

Linux GUI apps on WSL will include out-of-the-box audio and mic support. And users will be able to leverage WSL's GPU access to run Linux apps with accelerated 3D graphics. More information on WSLg is in this separate Microsoft blog post.

Today's Dev Channel build also includes support for Microsoft Edge process classification in Task Manager, a feature designed to help users figure out their resource consumption in Edge. Among the categories that will be tracked are Tabs, browser processes (Browser, GPU Process, Crashpad), utility plug-ins, Dedicated and Service Workers, and more. This particular feature is available only to Insiders running the latest Edge Canary or Dev builds and will be rolling out in a staggered way, starting with a subset of Insiders in the Dev Channel.

Microsoft also is testing a new experimental feature in Task Manager called "Eco Mode," which is designed to help users throttle process resources. This is meant to help users limit the consumption of resources in certain apps to give priority to other apps. This feature also is rolling out in a staggered way, starting with a subset of Insiders in the Dev Channel.

There are a number of other changes and fixes in Build 21364, which Microsoft lists in its blog post, as well as several known issues.

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