Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Microsoft: This Windows 10 PowerShell script lets you securely fight coronavirus with Folding@home

Microsoft's new PowerShell script runs Folding@home in Windows 10's Sandbox secure virtual-machine container.

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Microsoft has released a PowerShell script that helps Windows 10 users securely contribute their computer's unused processing power to Folding@home. Distributed-computing disease research project Folding@home has turned its efforts to probing coronavirus COVID-19.

To help Folding@home simulate protein dynamics, users have already been downloading the software's client for macOS, Windows, and Linux. 

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But now Windows 10 users can contribute their CPU power within the safety of the Windows Sandbox, Microsoft's secure virtual-machine container intended for running suspicious files without risk of infecting the host machine with malware.

The Folding@home project is led by computational biophysicist Greg Bowman, PhD, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis. 

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)

So far Microsoft has helped by providing the university with Azure GPUs, but the project has also attracted over 700,000 new citizen scientists after it began focusing on coronavirus research. 

The boost in processing power has helped it run simulations of the COVID-19 proteins to understand how they bind to human cells and where to potentially target therapies. 

Another major contributor is CoreWeave, the largest US miner on the Ethereum blockchain, which has lent over 6,000 of its high-end GPUs.

Microsoft's PowerShell script could help boost the number of Windows 10 PCs contributing to the project. 

Microsoft says it provided "a simple PowerShell script that automatically downloads the latest Folding@home client and launches it in Windows Sandbox". 

The script, which can be downloaded from Microsoft's GitHub repository, will also enable Windows Sandbox if it is not already enabled and then reboot the system. After the reboot, users need to launch the script again and it will start Windows Sandbox to run the Folding@home client. 

SEE: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

The script allows the Folding@home client to run in a Hyper-V virtual machine isolated environment. Users need to be running Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise Insider build 18362 or newer.

After Windows Sandbox is enabled, users can download the latest Folding@home Windows installer and generate the client's configuration file. 

Once the physical or virtual machine has been set up following Microsoft's instructions, users need to open the command prompt or PowerShell as an administrator and enter: Powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File .\install_folding_sandbox_on_host.ps1.

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Microsoft's PowerShell script could boost the number of Windows 10 PCs contributing to the Folding@home project.  

Image: Microsoft