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Microsoft unshackles WSL2 Linux kernel from Windows 10 image for future fettling via Windows Update

Chipping away at that OS image one component at a time

Microsoft has broken its long-running record of tedium with Windows 10 Insider builds by shunting the newly added Linux kernel into Windows Update.

First mooted back in March by program manager Craig Loewen, the change removes the Linux kernel from the Windows Image and instead flings it at Windows Update. The shift means that updates can be managed without having to wait for the Windows crew to do its thing with the OS as whole.

The Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) is a highlight in the May 2020 Update, ditching the translation layer of old in favour of something more virtualized. (Although, in true Redmondian style, Microsoft giveth and Microsoft taketh away. While things are mostly considerably snappier in many areas, attempting to access the Windows file system can be a little lethargic.)

Microsoft Windows and 'Tux' Linux logos next to each

Could it be? Really? The Year of Linux on the Desktop is almost here, and it's... Windows-shaped?


WSL2 is the latest in a line of what were once core Windows components sidling away from the base image. Microsoft's whizzy new Chromium Edge browser was made available outside of the OS and can now be found lurking in Windows Update while the likes of PowerShell 7 and Windows Terminal do not rock up in the box.

As well as handing the Linux kernel to Windows Update (a sequence of words that would have been unthinkable until relatively recently), build 19645 for Fast Ring Windows Insiders also added nested virtualization for AMD hardware.

Fixes include dealing with bugchecks when devices using eMMC resumed from hibernate, resolving a Windows Hello Setup crash if the Improve Recognition button was clicked after facial recognition had been enabled, and fixing an error that stopped some PCs recognising smart cards.

As ever, for some the update will continue to hang for "extended periods of time" during installation.

Microsoft also took the opportunity to let users know that the Android audio controls functionality announced back in April for its Your Phone companion app would now be rolling out to the general public.

For iOS users, however, there remains no Your Phone love from Redmond at this time. ®

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