Windows 10 updates have made news in recent months for their problems, rather than for their contributions. And it’s a shame because Windows has released many new and exciting features so far this year. One of the most important is Windows Sandboxing Environment or Windows Isolated Environment. We will explain what it is for and how to activate it.
The operating system sandboxes(Sandboxing Environment), also called virtual machines, have become very popular in recent years because they are convenient. They consist of creating a virtual computer that resides in memory. This virtual computer can contain any other operating system, so we can create a virtual machine with Linux inside Windows to use Linux applications, or with an old version of MS-DOS or Windows, to use early programs. Windows 10 has released its sandbox called Sandboxing Environment or Windows Isolated Environment.
We have seen the first application of these virtual machines: run a different operating system within another. But they have another important function. Sandboxes only exist in computer memory, and nothing can escape from inside. Nothing we do inside the sandbox is saved or modified by our primary operating system. When the sandbox closed or turn off the computer, it disappears without a trace. It means that we can run experimental or dangerous software in a sandbox, from a beta application full of bugs or even a virus, without fear of spoiling or infecting our PC, because the sandbox is in an isolated environment in memory, and when closing it, Everything disappears.
There are many sandboxes or virtual machines for Windows, such as VirtualBox.
They are very customizable because they allow you to install any version of Linux, Windows, MS-DOS, and other systems in the sandbox. But also a bit difficult to configure. Quite the opposite of Microsoft’s proposal.
Requirements to use Windows Sandbox
- How to enable BIOS virtualization
- Activate the Windows Isolated Environment
- How to use Windows Sandbox
The Windows sandbox configured automatically, and although it does not let you install another operating system, we have an immaculate virtual version of Windows 10, where we can experiment without fear of spoiling something.
Activating the Windows 10 Sandboxing Environment is very simple, but unfortunately, it is not available to everyone. That can be done only in Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise, that is, in professional versions of Windows 10. It is because, in addition to being a developer-focused tool, it requires a series of modules that are only present in Pro versions. And Enterprise.
These are the requirements of Windows Sandbox:
Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise
- Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise 64-bit processor with at least two cores (4 cores with recommended Hyperthreading)
- Virtualization enabled in the BIOS
- 4 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended)
- 1 GB hard drive (SDD recommended)
We see that one of the requirements is that the PC BIOS has virtualization enabled. We will explain what it is.
How to enable virtualization in the BIOS
The Sandboxing Environment or designed Windows 10 Isolated Space is to experiment with dangerous software. For this to be possible, Windows has to ensure that nothing escapes from this isolated space. To do this, it uses a technology called Hyper-V that separates the sandbox by hardware using the CPU. For that reason, a 64-bit processor that manages hardware virtualization is needed. All processors manufactured in the last 4 or 5 recent years include it, so you should not have problems unless your PC is ancient. We have tested it on an Intel i7-4790K that is already 5 or 6 years old and has worked without problems.
However, to use it, virtualization must be enabled in the BIOS. Let’s see how it has done.
Access the BIOS by pressing the F12 or Delete key when the computer starts. Each motherboard uses a different method, so check the manual.
When you are in the BIOS, you should look for the virtualization option. Again, on each motherboard and each processor model, it is called differently. Search for a field with a name like Virtualization, Intel Virtualization, VM Monitor Mode extensions, Hyper V, VT-d or RVI), etc.
Activate virtualization, exit the BIOS making sure you use the Record / Save / Save view, and then the computer must be a restart for the changes to take effect. Note that some CPUs have virtualization but cannot be modified in the BIOS, so it does not appear, but it is active.
Activate the Windows Isolated Environment
We are ready to use Sandboxing in Windows 10. It is time to activate it because it is not active by default. Luckily, it’s straightforward.
Access the Windows search engine on the desktop and look for the Control Panel. Then, enter Programs and Features:
You can also reach the same site by accessing the Windows Settings. And enter Applications, and then Programs and Features, on the right.
It will arrive at the following window, where you have to click on Activate or Deactivate Windows features, on the left:
Windows 10 will make several changes, and ask you to reboot your computer. We are ready to use the Windows 10 Sandbox.
How to use Windows Sandbox
When you want to activate a Windows Isolated Space, open the browser or access the list of applications installed on the Start button, and launch Windows Sandbox.
A clean version of Windows 10 will run in a window:
The big difference is that this window resides in a shielded environment in the RAM of your PC. You can use it as a standard Windows, installing applications (on a virtual disk that is also in memory) and starting them up. Nothing you do will affect your standard version of the system so that you can try programs with bugs, and even viruses, if you want.
When you have done, close the Windows Isolated Space window, and Everything you’ve done will disappear without a trace.
We have seen how to enable a Sandboxing environment in Windows 10, in a simple way.