Canonical, the developer of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, announced that version 16.04 of its operating system can now be installed straight from the Windows Store.
An App For Linux Developers
Microsoft and Canonical worked together on the Windows Subsystem for Linux (opens in new tab) (WSL) to make this app possible. The WSL has been available on Windows 10 since the Anniversary Update (opens in new tab), but the Ubuntu app is only now making its way through the Windows Insider Program. Ubuntu's app, combined with this subsystem, will allow you to natively run Linux executables on Windows.
The application is mainly targeted at developers who need the Linux command-line tools to do their jobs. Microsoft probably hopes the developers won't bother to install Linux distros on their machines anymore because they could just use the Linux command-line tools provided in Windows via third-party apps like this and the WSL.
Not A Full Ubuntu Distro
Unfortunately for those expecting to run the full Ubuntu operating system from inside Windows, perhaps as a more resilient browser sandbox that could protect against malware made specifically for Windows, the “Ubuntu app” doesn’t provide a graphical user interface.
The app's Windows Store description states the following:
Ubuntu on Windows allows one to use Ubuntu Terminal and run Ubuntu command line utilities including bash, ssh, git, apt and many more.
If you want to use Ubuntu or another Linux distribution as a sandbox for your browser on Windows, the only option remains installing Virtualbox and creating a virtual machine for it. (You'll want a system with a quad-core processor and at least 8GB for adequate performance.)
Insiders Get To Try It First
As with many new features, the Ubuntu app is now available to members of the Windows Insider Program, but it should be soon be available to everyone.
The latest Windows Insider builds come with an optional feature that allows you to run Ubuntu binaries, and it can be enabled by searching for “Turn Windows features on or off” and opting in to “Windows Subsystem for Linux." Afterward, Ubuntu can be installed from the Windows Store. When installing the Ubuntu application, a per-user copy will be configured, including the setup of the Unix account and the sudo password. The Ubuntu application can later be pinned to the Windows taskbar and Start Menu.
Microsoft previously said that it was working with the Fedora and SUSE developers (opens in new tab) to bring those distributions on top of the Windows Subsystem for Linux as well.