How to Enable Windows Sandbox

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Windows Sandbox is a new lightweight desktop environment designed specifically for secure runtime applications.

How many times have you downloaded an executable file but were you afraid to run it? Have you ever been in a situation where a clean installation of Windows was necessary, but you didn’t want to install a virtual machine?

Windows Sandbox is also very efficient because it uses and is available the integrated kernel scheduler, intelligent memory management and virtual graphics. Once you have finished using the application, the sandbox is deleted, which means that each time you start the function, you start a new installation of Windows 10.

The Windows Sandbox has the following properties:

  • Part of Windows – everything you need for this feature comes with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. You don’t need to download VHDs!
  • Perfect – every time Windows Sandbox runs, it’s as clean as a brand new Windows installation.
  • Unidirectional – nothing remains on the device; everything is discarded after the application is closed.
  • Secure – uses hardware virtualization for kernel isolation based on Microsoft’s hypervisor to run a separate kernel that isolates Windows Sandbox from the host.
  • Efficient – uses the integrated kernel scheduler, intelligent memory management and virtual GPU.

To enable the Windows Sandbox on Windows 10

If your device meets these requirements, you can activate the Windows Sandbox by opening the Windows Functions dialog box. Before you can continue, you must enable virtualization as follows.

  1. If you are using a physical machine, make sure that virtualization functions are enabled in the BIOS.
  2. If you are using a virtual machine, use this PowerShell cmdlet to enable nested virtualization:
  3. Define the VMware processor -VMName -ExposeVirtualizationExtensions $true

You can now activate the Windows Sandbox.

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To enable the Windows Sandbox, press the Windows button and type: Enable or disable Windows functions and select the best result or press Enter.

The Windows Features window opens, where you can enable or disable various functions. Scroll through the list and select the Windows Test Environment option, then click OK. Then, simply follow the on-screen wizard to complete the installation – a restart is required.

After installation, you can simply run the Windows Sandbox from the Start menu with extended privileges. Copy the executable file you want to run into the Windows Sandbox and run it as usual.

If hardware virtualization is not enabled, contact your motherboard manufacturer for information on how to enable this feature.

The Windows Sandbox uses a dynamically generated image based on the host’s Windows 10 installation, so you do not need to manually download a VHD file or install Windows from an ISO file in the Sandbox. The basic image is about 100 MB and only 25 MB in compressed form if the Windows Test Environment is not installed.

The memory management is also slightly different, so the host can retrieve the sandbox memory if necessary. And with Direct Map, the sandbox can safely use the same physical memory pages as the host operating system. The integrated kernel scheduler allows the host operating system to decide when to run the Windows Test Environment, similar to threads for any normal process, and ensures that the host responds under load. Microsoft claims that these technical differences compared to Hyper-V virtual machines are intended to treat Windows Sandbox as an application, while providing the security guarantees of virtual machines.

From a performance perspective, the Windows Sandbox uses snapshots and cloning to store memory, CPU and device status on the hard disk, so you don’t have to restart Windows every time you start the Sandbox. In addition, hardware-accelerated graphics rendering is supported by giving Test Environment or Hyper-V applications the ability to use graphics APIs directly, provided you have a compatible graphics card and WDDM 2.5 or later drivers.

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