What Is Windows Sandbox and How Is It Used to Run Applications

Windows Sandbox Featured

With the Windows 10 May 2019 update, Microsoft introduced a new feature called Windows Sandbox. This article discusses what Windows Sandbox actually is and how to enable it.

What Is Windows Sandbox?

Windows Sandbox is a temporary, secure, and isolated virtual environment where you can test new or untrusted software and play with other settings and configurations. Microsoft made this possible by creating a separate kernel in its own hypervisor. When you open the sandbox, you’ll find that Windows has created a new clean OS that is imaged directly from your system.

Since the guest kernel is separated from the host kernel, the sandbox is completely isolated from the actual operating system. No matter what you do in Sandbox, all the changes are discarded when you close it. When you open it again, it is a clean slate.

The best thing about Windows Sandbox is that it is lightweight (around 100 MB) and fast.

Of course, when you compare Windows Sandbox with a full Windows installation in Virtual Box or VMware, it lacks some useful features like drag-and-drop support, snapshots, etc. However, traditional virtual machines are slow, consume a lot of system resources, and take quite a number of steps to install and properly configure.

So if you are looking for a simple, fast, secure, and disposable sandbox environment to test software or settings, Windows Sandbox is a pretty good choice.

Requirements

To install and use Windows Sandbox, your system needs to meet a couple of requirements.

  1. First, you should be using Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise edition with the May 2019 (v1903) update.
  2. Your system should be 64-bit and support hardware virtualization.
  3. Ideally, your system should have at least 4 GB RAM.
  4. Your processor should have at least two cores. Microsoft recommends four cores with hyper-threading for smooth performance.

Once you confirm all these requirements, follow the below steps to install Windows Sandbox.

Install Windows Sandbox

Installing Windows Sandbox is fairly straightforward. All you have to do is select a single checkbox, and you are done.

1. First, open the Start menu, search for “Turn Windows Features On or Off,” and click on the result. This is where you can enable various extra features like Windows Sandbox and Hyper-V.

2. In the new Windows Features window, scroll down, find the “Windows Sandbox” option, select the checkbox and click on the “OK” button.

Windows Sandbox Select Windows Sandbox

3. As soon as you click on the OK button, Windows will download any necessary files and apply the changes.

Windows Sandbox Settings Applying

4. Once that is done, you need to reboot Windows.

Windows Sandbox Click Restart

5. After restarting, search for Windows Sandbox in the Start menu, and click on the result.

Windows Sandbox Start Menu Search

6. Windows will now launch the Sandbox. It looks just like your regular Windows machine. In fact, you can even access the Internet and all the settings.

Windows Sandbox

7. When you are done using Windows Sandbox, simply click on the X icon appearing on the top-left corner. The sandbox will show a warning message telling that the state will be discarded after closing Sandbox. Click on the “OK” button to continue.

Windows Sandbox Click Ok

If you ever want to remove or disable Windows Sandbox, all you have to do is uncheck the Windows Sandbox option in Step 2.

Wrapping Up

Windows Sandbox is a neat little feature that is very helpful to test new software, settings, and configurations. Even if you don’t see yourself using the Windows Sandbox feature regularly, I recommend you enable it, as it can be a useful tool in a pinch. Sure, it lacks some features you get from using a regular virtual machine software like VMware or VirtualBox, but it makes up for that with its ease of use and snappy performance.

Comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using Windows Sandbox in Windows 10.

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4 comments

  1. Another “Look, we’ve got it too!” application Microsoft appropriated from Linux to go along with PowerShell and WSL.

    1. Yes, some day, Linux will be able to say the same about users and maybe even games!

  2. That’s a great feature. I used to have a sacrificial VM for shady software (cracks, it’s cracks) so it’s nice to see this built right in the OS. Should save a few GBs. Should be super useful to test software on various install configs.

    1. Only for those having Windows Pro while most PCs come with Windows Home. This is yet another Microsoft scam. No thanks, I’ll stay with Linux.

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