Running Windows 8.1 Phone Emulator Outside of Visual Studio 2013 and 2015

I wanted to use the Windows Phone 8.1 Emulator for testing and demo without  Visual Studio 2013 or 2015 RC. So in this article, I have captured some details to supplement the available info found in miscellaneous (and now dated) blogs written for the Visual Studio 2012 time frame. Perhaps most significantly, we are going to install the Windows 8.1 update, which makes the experience MUCH nicer than the Windows Phone 8.0 Emulator (others have written about) when working outside Visual Studio. Please make sure you read all the way to the end, as there are a couple of phone navigation tips near the end you will want to know about.

Installation and Configuration

Note that I am running Windows 8.1 with the latest updates. You will almost certainly find this is equally applicable on Windows 10 as well.

The steps are as follows:

Make sure Hyper-V on your Windows 8.x or Windows 10 PC. The emulator is basically a VHD that runs as a Hyper-V VM.

Ensure that you have downloaded and installed the latest version of Windows Phone 8.0 SDK from –

Next, download and install the Windows Phone 8.1 Update and Emulators at

To launch the emulator from the command line, you will need the path to the xde.exe command line executable. The default path on my 64-bit Windows 8.1 system is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft XDE\8.1”. You can search for xde.exe on your system if the same is not true for you.

At a command prompt, change to the directory containing xde.exe mentioned in the previous step.

To launch with the default settings (512 MB memory, 640×480 resolution)
xde /vhd “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Phone\v8.1\Emulation\Images\Flash.update1.vhd”

If you want greater resources (memory, screen resolution), you could use the following syntax, which will launch with 1 GB memory and 720 x 1280 screen resolution (really big!), which is great for demos.
XDE.exe /vhd “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Phone\v8.1\Emulation\Images\Flash.update1.vhd” /video “720×1280” /memsize 1024 /language 409 /creatediffdisk “%Temp%\dd.720×1280.1024.vhd”  Continue reading “Running Windows 8.1 Phone Emulator Outside of Visual Studio 2013 and 2015”