Microsoft brings Linux to the Windows Store as it embraces devs

Posted Jul 11, 2017 by James Walker
Microsoft has announced that the Ubuntu Linux distribution is now available within the Windows Store. It lets you access Linux terminal features from your Windows PC, without dual-booting. It's a reflection of Microsoft's changing attitude to developers.
Canonical s Ubuntu Linux-based operating system
Canonical's Ubuntu Linux-based operating system
Microsoft debuted the Ubuntu shell on Windows with last year's Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Developed in direct partnership with Ubuntu creator Canonical, it allows a Windows computer to support a native Linux subsystem. You can access the full power of an entire Linux operating system without having to leave Windows.
Today's announcement sees Ubuntu land in the Windows Store, significantly simplifying the installation experience. Previously, Ubuntu had to be manually installed from Windows' developer mode. That requirement has now been dropped but you still have to turn on the Linux subsystem yourself from the "Turn Windows features on or off" menu.
With the subsystem installed, you can open the Windows Store and head to the Ubuntu page to "install" Linux on your Windows 10 PC. You can launch the Ubuntu shell from the Start Menu by opening the "Ubuntu" option, simplified from "Bash on Ubuntu on Windows." Because Ubuntu's now a Windows Store app, it also supports its own Live Tile.
Ubuntu in the Windows Store
Ubuntu in the Windows Store
Microsoft cited several reasons why it's moved Ubuntu into the Windows Store. By employing the Store's download system, it can offer a "faster and more reliable" installation experience. Perhaps more significantly, the new method also enables multiple Linux versions ("distros") to be installed side-by-side. Only Ubuntu is currently available but the popular SUSE and Fedora distros are both "nearing completion." They'll be available later this month.
When SUSE and Fedora arrive, Windows 10 will be capable of hosting three distinct Linux environments on top of its own operating system structure. Microsoft's intention is to make Windows an easier environment for developers to use.
Ubuntu in the Windows Store
Ubuntu in the Windows Store
Many programmers rely on workflow tools that are only available on Linux machines, preventing them from switching to Windows. The Linux subsystem now removes this obstacle, allowing Linux programs to run natively on Windows and access files on your hard drives.
The creation of the Linux subsystem is indicative of Microsoft's changing attitude towards developers and rival ecosystems. Whereas the Ballmer-era Microsoft was focused entirely on the company's first-party products, Satya Nadella's leadership has ushered in a more pragmatic approach. As the company pivots towards selling services, recognising how modern development works is more likely to win favour in the long-term.
Ubuntu is available today in the Windows Store. It's currently limited to Windows Insider builds of the operating system as it relies on newer features of the upcoming Fall Creators Update. It'll be expanded to all Windows 10 PCs when the update launches later this year. Developers who already have the "legacy" version of Bash on Ubuntu on Windows installed can use both editions side-by-side or follow Microsoft's guidance to remove the old one.