Windows 10 and 11 both support the Windows Subsystem for Linux, a feature that allows Windows to run the Linux terminal natively and, by extension, Linux programs as well. The first version of WSL came with some restrictions around graphics which WSL 2 hopes to fix.
That said, it isn’t perfect, and you should expect to see random bugs and glitches from time to time when using the terminal. This article looks at the “Wslregisterdistribution failed with error 0x800701bc” issue in WSL and gives you three ways to fix the problem.
Before you can start using WSL, you must ensure you’re on the latest Windows 10 or 11 build. Windows 11 supports WSL 2 out of the box, so you might get away with not having the latest version, but it’s still recommended for optimal performance. As for Windows 10, the latest builds will give you much better stability and performance.
Manually update the Linux kernel
The latest builds of Windows 10 and 11 come with WSL 2, which implements a fully functional Linux kernel, meaning you need to update the existing WSL kernel on your Windows machine.
To do so, download the kernel setup file from Microsoft’s WSL 2 page and run the included installer. This should update the Linux kernel and resolve the error for you.
Enable Virtual Machine Platform
If you’re not able to run WSL even with an updated kernel, chances are you haven’t enabled the Virtual Machine Platform feature required to run subsystems like Linux and Android on Windows. Follow these steps to enable the feature.
Step 1: Press the Windows key and search for Windows Powershell. Click the Run as administrator option from the search results.
Step 2: Run the following command in Powershell.
Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName VirtualMachinePlatform
Restart your machine when the command has been successfully executed, and you’ll be good to go.