Windows subsystem for linux(version 2) is an operational substitute for running linux applications.

As described on Microsoft’s documentation:

“The Windows Subsystem for Linux lets developers run a GNU/Linux environment – including most command-line tools, utilities, and applications – directly on Windows, unmodified, without the overhead of a traditional virtual machine or dual-boot setup.”

When describing WSL2, Microsoft authors write:

“WSL 2 is a major overhaul of the underlying architecture and uses virtualization technology and a Linux kernel to enable new features. The primary goals of this update are to increase file system performance and add full system call compatibility.”

Furthermore WSL2 is a fully managed VM requiring little to no configuration from the user. In practice this has both pros and cons and they are listed in detail on the WSL documentation page

The networking capabilities, especially the ability for developers to directly access networked applications, servers, and databases, directly through localhost is especially appealing. For the most part, linux is still the dominant host for applications running in the cloud in containerized environments. The ability to set up an environment as closely as possible to the deployed container cannot be understated or undervalued. The convenience factor of being able to do this directly through a terminal window rather than having to load a managed VM environment like VirtualBox or VMWare is satisfying.

Certainly there are some downsides to using WSL, but as is the case for all tools, there is always a tradeoff to be made.

Further information for reading-