Revision as of 08:44, 8 November 2012 by Pengguang Wu (Talk | contribs)

Windows Phone 8 Emulator in a Windows 8 VHD

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This article explains how to setup a Windows Phone 8 emulator inside a Windows 8 virtual hard disk. This may be useful if you wish to use the Windows Phone 8 SDK on a PC running Windows 7.

Warning.pngWarning: Running the Windows Phone 8 emulator from a bootable VHD is not supported. The Emulator may fail to start with the warning App deployment failed. Please try again. Even if, after a few minutes, it does start, it is likely to be very slow.

Note.pngNote: This is a community entry in the Windows Phone 8 Wiki Competition 2012Q4.

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Windows Phone 8
Created: Pengguang Wu (01 Nov 2012)
Last edited: Pengguang Wu (08 Nov 2012)


If you have a Windows 7 machine and don't want to upgrade to Windows 8 then the obvious options for testing the Windows Phone 8 SDK will not work:

  • The Windows Phone 8 SDK cannot be installed and run directly in Windows 7.
  • It is not possible to run the SDK Emulator on a Windows 8 installation running in a virtual environment on Windows Phone 7. Anecdotally, this is because the Emulator is itself a virtual machine and cannot be hosted inside another virtual machine.

However it is possible (albeit unsupported) to boot Windows 8 onto the real hardware from an image in a virtual drive and still use the Emulator.


First follow the instructions in Scott Hanselman's blog entry, which explain how to install and boot Windows 8 off a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) - note that the instructions are written for the preview release, but do work for the release version of the Windows 8 with an ISO burned on a DVD (64-bit). On completion you can use both Windows 7 and Windows 8 Pro on the same PC as multiple boots at the startup. Other than a VHD file in your hard disk, there are no additional programs to be installed in your Windows 7. Most PCs bought in recent years have the capability to do so without adding memory or software.

The next step is to check if the hypervisor is enabled in Windows 8. In the Start screen, type Control to get to the Control Panel. Under Program and Features, click Turn Windows features on or off. If Hyper-V is not checked and is not greyed out, make sure it is checked. Restart the computer.

Download the Windows Phone 8 SDK and install it. Test the emulator with a quick app. Without a physical phone, this is a good way to kick some tires. The system I setup was on a Lenono IdeaPad Y570 (Intel Core i7) with Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium. Deleting the VHD and delete the boot entry with BCDEdit, you have your original system.

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