Windows Sandbox

Windows Sandbox provides a lightweight desktop environment to safely run applications in isolation. Software installed inside the Windows Sandbox environment remains "sandboxed" and runs separately from the host machine.

A sandbox is temporary. When it's closed, all the software and files and the state are deleted. You get a brand-new instance of the sandbox every time you open the application.

Software and applications installed on the host aren't directly available in the sandbox. If you need specific applications available inside the Windows Sandbox environment, they must be explicitly installed within the environment.

Windows Sandbox has the following properties:

  • Part of Windows: Everything required for this feature is included in Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. There's no need to download a VHD.
  • Pristine: Every time Windows Sandbox runs, it's as clean as a brand-new installation of Windows.
  • Disposable: Nothing persists on the device. Everything is discarded when the user closes the application.
  • Secure: Uses hardware-based virtualization for kernel isolation. It relies on the Microsoft hypervisor to run a separate kernel that isolates Windows Sandbox from the host.
  • Efficient: Uses the integrated kernel scheduler, smart memory management, and virtual GPU.

The following video provides an overview of Windows Sandbox.

Prerequisites

  • Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise build 18305 or later (Windows Sandbox is currently not supported on Home SKUs)
  • AMD64 architecture
  • Virtualization capabilities enabled in BIOS
  • At least 4 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • At least 1 GB of free disk space (SSD recommended)
  • At least two CPU cores (four cores with hyperthreading recommended)

Installation

  1. Ensure that your machine is using Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, build version 18305 or later.

  2. Enable virtualization on the machine.

    • If you're using a physical machine, make sure virtualization capabilities are enabled in the BIOS.
    • If you're using a virtual machine, run the following PowerShell command to enable nested virtualization:
      Set -VMProcessor -VMName <VMName> -ExposeVirtualizationExtensions $true
  3. Use the search bar on the task bar and type Turn Windows Features on and off to access the Windows Optional Features tool. Select Windows Sandbox and then OK. Restart the computer if you're prompted.

    • If the Windows Sandbox option is unavailable, your computer doesn't meet the requirements to run Windows Sandbox. If you think this is incorrect, review the prerequisite list as well as steps 1 and 2.
  4. Locate and select Windows Sandbox on the Start menu to run it for the first time.

Usage

  1. Copy an executable file (and any other files needed to run the application) from the host into the Windows Sandbox window.
  2. Run the executable file or installer inside the sandbox.
  3. When you're finished experimenting, close the sandbox. A dialog box will state that all sandbox content will be discarded and permanently deleted. Select ok.
  4. Confirm that your host machine doesn't exhibit any of the modifications that you made in Windows Sandbox.