A virtual machine monitor (VMM) is included in a computer system that has a protected host operating system (HOS). A virtual machine running at least one application via a virtual operating system is connected to the VMM. Both the HOS and the VMM have separate operating contexts and disjoint address spaces, but are both co-resident at system level. A driver that is downloadable into the HOS at system level forms a total context switch between the VMM and HOS contexts. A user-level emulator accepts commands from the VMM via the system-level driver and processes these commands as remote procedure calls. The emulator is able to issue host operating system calls and thereby access the physical system devices via the host operating system. The host operating system itself thus handles execution of certain VMM instructions, such as accessing physical devices.