Microsoft plans on blocking Linux from Windows 10 S

By: Costea Lestoc
2 minute read

Back when Windows 10 S targeted education, there were many users doubting its success due to its limitation to Windows Store apps, which looked like a road towards failure. That opinion wasn’t so far out there considering Windows RT followed the same recipe and failed.

Some apps won’t be available on the Windows Store

On the other hand, some users became hopeful when Microsoft made its announcement at Build 2017 saying that it would bring Linux distributions to the Windows Store. And while this might have given everybody the impression that students using Windows S would be able to tinker with Linux, this isn’t the case because Microsoft will block Linux from running on the OS. Long story short, not all the apps in the Store will be available for Windows 10 S.

Senior Product Manager for Microsoft, Rich Turner, said that Windows 10 S doesn’t run command-line apps nor the Windows Console, Cmd / PowerShell, or Linux/Bash/WSL instances. The motivation is that the “command-line apps run outside the safe environment that protects Windows 10 S from malicious/misbehaving software.”

Turner also stated that the Linux distro store packages are quite an “exotic type of app package” published on the Store by known partners of the company. He said that users will find and install distros quickly and in the safest and the most reliable manner via the Windows Store app.

Turner thinks that once they are installed, distros should be treated as command-line tools that secure the runtime infrastructure and run outside the UWB sandbox.

They run with the capabilities granted to the local user — in the same way as Cmd and PowerShell do. This is why Linux distros don’t run on Windows 10 S: Even though they’re delivered via the Windows Store, and installed as standard UWP APPX’s, they run as non-UWP command-line tools and this can access more of a system than a UWP can.” Turner concluded.

You can handle Linux only if you upgrade to Windows Pro

Windows 10 S is not designed to handle Linux distributions and if you really want to run Linux from Windows Store, you have to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. Considering how valuable Linux is these days, it’s possible Microsoft lost a great opportunity at the end of the day.

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