Everything you want to know about Windows Phone Emulator
By on June 9th, 2011

E-MU Emulator II+ HD Model 6075

Windows Phone Emulator is a desktop application that emulates a Windows Phone 7 device providing a virtualized environment in which you can develop, debug, and test Windows Phone applications. Emulator allows you to test common application development scenarios without the need of a physical device.

System Requirements and Installation

Windows Phone Emulator is a component of the Windows Phone Developer Tools, and doesn’t need a separate installation. Windows Phone Emulator is not backward compatible with Visual Studio 2005 or Visual Studio 2008. Also, it cannot load Windows Phone OS images earlier than Windows Phone OS 7.0.

The emulator can be installed on Windows 7 32-bit, Windows 7 64-bit, Windows Vista SP2 32-bit, and Windows Vista 64-bit. Windows XP, Windows Server, Virtual PC, and Hyper-V are not supported. The machine should have 3 GB RAM while 1.5 GB of free RAM should be available. DirectX 10 or DirectX 11 graphics card with WDDM 1.1 or later driver, and DDI 10 or later are also needed.

Capabilities and Features

  • Networking support is integrated with the Windows Phone Emulator and is enabled by default.
  • The emulator also provides support for simulating location and accelerometer data.
  • Windows Phone Emulator includes emulation for a graphics processing unit (GPU), if a GPU is present on the development computer.
  • In some scenarios, you can improve the performance of the emulator by using hardware-assisted virtualization.
  • Windows Phone Emulator supports the VC-1, H.264 and AAC formats for video, and the WMA, WMV and WAV formats for audio.
  • You can use the host computer keyboard as a hardware keyboard.

Pro Tip: The emulator simulates a flash drive of 2 GB. A real world Windows Phone 7 device has a far larger memory, therefore, you cannot install as many applications on the emulator as you can install on a device. Also, data in isolated storage persists while the emulator is running, but is lost once the emulator closes.

Application Deployment

Windows Phone Emulator - Toolbar

Starting an application:

  1. In Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, open a Windows Phone project.
  2. On the Standard toolbar, find the target device drop-down list and select Windows Phone Emulator.
  3. Press F5 or click Start Debugging on the Debug menu to run the application in the emulator.

Only one instance of the emulator can run at a time.

Stopping an application:

  • In the emulator, click the Back button
  • In Visual Studio, press Shift+F5 or click Stop Debugging on the Debug menu.


Windows Phone Emulator - Orientation

To change the orientation, on the emulator toolbar, click the rotate left button or rotate right button.

Pro Tip: The emulator does not support orientation changes when the keyboard is enabled. You must disable the keyboard, and then rotate the emulator.


You can change the size of the emulator on the host computer screen. The maximum resolution of the emulator is 480 x 800 pixels indicated by the 100% zoom.

Windows Phone Emulator - Zoom

To change the zoom setting, on the emulator toolbar, click the zoom button and in the Zoom dialog box, enter a zoom value between 33 and 100.


When you select the Fit to Screen zoom option, the emulator resizes to 70% of the size of the maximum resolution of the emulator.

Windows Phone Emulator - Fit to Screen

To fit the emulator to the screen, on the emulator toolbar, click the fit to screen button. or in the  Zoom dialog box, select Fit to screen.

Enabling and Disabling the Keyboard

To enable the keyboard in the emulator, press the PAGE UP key or press the PAUSE/BREAK key.

To disable the keyboard in the emulator, press the PAGE DOWN key or press the PAUSE/BREAK key.


Useful How To articles on MSDN

Photo by Matrix Synth

Author: Abhishek Baxi
Abhishek Baxi is an independent technology columnist for several international publications and a digital consultant. He speaks incessantly on Twitter (@baxiabhishek) and dons the role of Editor-in-Chief here at Techie Buzz.

Abhishek Baxi has written and can be contacted at abhishek@techie-buzz.com.

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