Microsoft is making it a lot easier to access Linux files in Windows 10

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Contrary to what some people might think, Windows 10 and Linux are not sworn enemies. Sure, there is a big difference between proprietary and open source software, but for people who run both operating systems, Microsoft is adding a neat feature to Windows 10—Linux file integration into File Explorer (see image above).

Microsoft is essentially building on its plan to jam a full Linux kernel in Windows 10, as it previously announced. Users have been able to access Linux files in Explorer since the May 2019 update (Windows 10 version 1903), but the feature being tested right now adds a Linux icon (Tux) in the left-hand navigation pane of Explorer if you have Windows Subsytem for Linux, or WSL, installed.

It's a subtle change, and also a welcome one. Previously, users would have to open up their Linux distro, make sure the current folder was in their Linux home directory, then type 'explorer.exe' to open a File Explorer window containing their Linux files.

In this new implementation, clicking on the Linux icon will bring up a view of the available Linux distros. When you click on one, it will place you in the Linux root file system for that particular distro. Easy-cheesy.

Microsoft rolled out the feature to its newest preview build (19603) for Windows Insiders who are subscribed to the Fast ring. Assuming all goes well, this should end up in the next big update to Windows 10 (20H1).

It's not clear when 20H1 will roll out, other than sometime in the first half of the year, barring a delay. Microsoft has committed to releasing two major feature updates to Windows 10 each year, in addition to the cumulative security updates that arrive on Patch Tuesday—the second Tuesday of every month.

In addition to better Linux integration, the 20H1 release is expected to add support for third-party widgets to the Windows 10 Game Bar, starting with ones from Intel, Razer, and XSplit.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).