But for now it’s for Windows 10 Insiders only. 

Double check the date if you want, but it’s not April 1st, and Microsoft really have made the Ubuntu Linux operating system (OS) available on the Windows Store.

Canonical, the developer of the Ubuntu version of Linux, have announced the unprecedented step of announcing that version 16.04 of the OS can now be installed directly from the Windows Store.

Ubuntu on Windows? What next? Donald Trump as President of the US? Stranger things have happened…

Both Canonical and Microsoft have apparently been working on the Windows ‘app’ version of Ubuntu since before the much vaunted Windows 10 Anniversary Update earlier this year.

But only if you’re an Insider….

Yes, that much unfortunately is true. Ubuntu is currently only available to Windows 10 Insiders on build 16215, and higher. Official support will not be made available to the public until the upcoming Windows 10 update in the fall.

“By putting Ubuntu immediately available on the Windows desktop, we’re bringing Ubuntu, Linux and open source to billions of Windows users in the world,” said Dustin Kirkland, head of product and strategy for Ubuntu at Canonical.

Microsoft plays it smart, unlike  their entry into the  smart phone market.

Adding Ubuntu to the Windows Store is a canny move by Microsoft. The Redmond based company says there are many advantages to installing the Windows Store version of Ubuntu, claiming that ‘Windows Ubuntu’ will be more reliable, and will download faster because of the Windows Store’s block-based downloading scheme; or so say Microsoft, anyway.

There will also be substantial support for users and developers who want to run and install different distros (versions of Linux) side by side.

The blurb on the Ubuntu entry on the Windows Store says that installing the OS will allow users to “use Ubuntu Terminal and run Ubuntu command line utilities including bash, ssh, git, apt and many more.” I can’t lie to you, I don’t really know what most of that means, but apparently developers will love it.

And while installing versions of Linux will be made significantly easier going forward, it’s not going to be as simple as just installing the download and instantly start using Ubuntu. But that said, it should be easier than it is for most people at present.

Aimed at developers then, and maybe not me…

Yes, pretty much, to begin with anyway. Making Ubuntu available in the Windows Store should make it much easier for developers of Linux and open source software to have ready access to Microsoft applications such as Office and server software like Exchange and SQL Server; the bonus being that Ubuntu users will be able to flip between Windows and Ubuntu at will. 

Smart move

Perhaps though the real reason behind Microsoft’s willingness to accept Ubuntu onto its platform, is that the tech giant has recognized the fact that software developers like having multiple platforms available to them. In one smart sweep, Microsoft have removed one of the reasons developers have been abandoning Windows and moving to pure Linux environments, making sure developers have Linux tools available through the Windows desktop, and keep them using Windows.

It’s one way to future proof Windows.