Setting Up Your Windows Phone Development Environment in 30 Minutes (or less)

Last week, I proved that you already have the skills to build Windows Phone apps. Well, in order to build quality apps for Windows Phone, you need the right tools.

This week I will walk you through the steps you need to setup your machine for Windows Phone development. Before you groan, let me assure you that it will only take about 30 minutes to accomplish this goal.

Skeptical? Let me prove it to you. The clock starts…. Now!

Check System Requirements - 3 minutes

There are different requirements based on whether or not you will run the Windows Phone Emulator during the development process to test your application. Let’s make the assumption that you will need the Windows Phone Emulator for testing.

Ensure that your development machine is running on Windows 8 Pro 64 bit, with a processor that is at least 1.6 GHz and supports Second Level Address Translation (SLAT). Finally, make sure you have 4 GB of RAM at a minimum, and at least of 6.5 GB of hard disk space.

Last but not least, check to confirm if your machine’s processor supports Hyper-V and Second Level Address Translation. To do this, you will need to download and run Coreinfo.

  1. 1. When you get to the Coreinfo page, click the Download Coreinfo link, which looks like this:


  2. You will be prompted to either open or save the file. Save this file to your machine.

  3. Extract the zip file’s contents to a folder on your machine, and make note of the directory path.

  4. Launch a Command Prompt as an Admin. From the Desktop, hit Windows key + X for a quick access menu, and select Command Prompt (Admin) from the list.

  5. Set your working directory to the directory that you extracted the Coreinfo tool to. For example: cd c:\coreinfo

  6. Enter the command coreinfo –v at the prompt. The –v switch instructs the tool to dump only virtualization-related features, including support for second level address translation.

  7. Accept the license terms in the Coreinfo License Agreement dialog.

Review the output in the Command Prompt window. If there is an asterisk next to Hypervisor and EPT, you are ready to install the tools.


Note that on my machine, EPT has flat-lined, even though my machine does in fact support SLAT. If you’re running hypervisor when executing Coreinfo, as was in my case, you may see the same results. The results may have been skewed because I had hypervisor turned on.

The best test is to just install the tool and see what happens. Worst case scenario is that the Emulator will not get installed, and you will need to test your development on a Windows Phone 8 device.

Download and Install the Windows Phone SDK – 25 minutes

Once you have confirmed that your system meets the minimum requirements, and I’m assuming that you already have Visual Studio installed, you can go ahead and install the Windows Phone SDK. I know many of you know how to do this, but I’m going to walk through it just to show that it’s not complicated! So let’s get to it!

  1. Launch the Windows Phone Developer Center.


  2. Click the Download Dev Tools link. This will take you to the Windows Phone SDK download page, as shown below.


  3. Click the Download button in the SDK 8.0 section.

  4. A warning will appear prompting you to run or save the installation file, WPexpress_full.exe.

  5. Click Run to launch the installation.

  6. Set the installation directory, read and accept the terms and conditions, and click Install.


  7. Click Yes in the UAC Window Prompt to confirm that you want to run this installation.

  8. At this point, the setup will take about 20 minutes to complete. This is a good time to get up, stretch, and grab a cup of coffee.

  9. Near the end of the installation process, you will be prompted to restart your computer. So go ahead and do that.

  10. Once your machine reboots, the installation will pick up where it left off. This will take another minute or two.

  11. If everything installed properly, you will see this:


  12. 11. Click Launch to load Visual Studio 2012.

Important Note

For those developers that did not have a full-featured edition of Visual Studio on their machines, a standalone Express version of Visual Studio has been installed, along with the Windows Phone SDK. Everything is provided in one nice little package to simplify life and make everyone happy!

If you already had Visual Studio 2012 (Professional, Premium or Ultimate editions) on your machine, the Windows Phone SDK will be installed as an add-on to your existing Visual Studio environment. This just means that only the necessary assemblies will be installed to your machine. On the next launch of Visual Studio, you will be able to select from a set of Windows Phone project templates to start building mobile apps. When you create a Windows Phone project using one of those templates, all of the required assemblies that you need will be included in your project.

If you have either the Professional, Premium or Ultimate edition of Visual Studio 2012 on your machine, you can skip the next step. It is meant for developers who had Visual Studio Express 2012 installed during the setup.

Register Visual Studio Express 2012 – 2 minutes

When you launch Visual Studio Express 2012 for the first time, you will be prompted to register and obtain a product key. Technically, you can use the product for 30 days without having to register it first, but let’s get it out of the way now.

  1. Click the Register online link in the dialog prompt that displays when Visual Studio Express is launched.


  2. You will be prompted to sign into your Microsoft Live account. Enter your Live ID and password, then click Sign In.

  3. Review your profile information, and select the reason you are registering for Visual Studio. The options are: Academic, Business, or Personal.

  4. Click Continue.

  5. Select how you plan to distribute your apps. Since we plan on publishing apps to the Windows Phone Store in the near future, select Public Distribution.

  6. Click Continue to register your product.

  7. Highlight the Product Key that appears and copy it to the clipboard.

  8. Go back to the Registration dialog (shown in step 1).

  9. Paste the key into the Product Key field.

  10. Click Next to launch Visual Studio Express.

That’s All Folks!

Stop the clock! Has it been longer than 30 minutes? No? That’s how easy it is to get your development environment up and running for Windows Phone development. Don’t get too comfortable just yet. Setting up your development environment was only half the battle. Check back here as in the next post, we’ll put those tools to use and get you building some Phone apps!

Attention Students and MSDN subscribers!

If you are a student, you don’t have to settle for the Express version of Visual Studio to develop your mobile app or game. Use the same tools as the professionals by downloading your copy of Visual Studio Professional at DreamSpark. You can download Visual Studio Professional and the Windows Phone SDK all for free!

MSDN subscribers can download either the Professional, Premium or Ultimate editions of Visual Studio depending on their subscription, along with the Windows Phone SDK from the Subscriber Downloads page. Everything you need is included as part of your subscription!