Running Windows 8.1 emulator on a Mac is a huge pain in the ass. 


A core i-series Mac. Windows Mobile Emulator requires VT-X/EPT, which isn’t found on the Core 2 series or Xeons of that era. If you’re running this on a Hackintosh, you may need to enable VT-x/EPT in the Bios.  EPT allows for nested VMs, a VM within a VM.

Windows 8.1 64 bit. Notably the VMs found on are 32 Bit and will not work. 

VMware or preferably Parallels. VMware has a tendency to lock up on my MacBook Pro Retina when trying to run the Windows Phone Emulator.

Note: It is possible to enable VT-X-EPT on Virtualbox, VirtualBox users will want to check out the following for details.

Step 1: Setup and install 

You’ll need to install Windows from your  source: thumb-drive / DVD / ISO. Be sure to give your VM enough ram and be sure to enable “Nested Emulation” in Parallels or VT-x/EBt under Advanced in VMware Fusion.

Pictured: VMware Fusion

Pictured: Parallels 

Step 2: Installing Visual Studio Express

There’s multiple version of Visual Studio, Express is free, provides all the support you’ll need. You can get VS Express here

VS Studio Express is a minimum of roughly 10GB download so it’ll take some time. Be sure to Install the Windows 8 Phone SDK. If you do not, or already have VS Express installed, you can get it here.

Pictured: Be prepared to wait after running the VB Express installer.

Step 3: Running Windows 8.1 Mobile 

Go to Tools -> Windows Phone 8.1  -> Developer Power Tools.

And then select a Device and click connect. If you do not see any devices, you may need to install the Windows 8.1 phone emulators.

You should see the Windows 8.1 Phone pop up, it can take a few minutes to load so be patient. 


While it seems simple in retrospect, I had a bunch of problems getting the Windows Mobile SDK to work which was amplified by the fact restarting meant downloading a new VM or copying an existing VMing and reinstalling Visual Studio Express. 

I discovered that the installs will not run the Windows Mobile Simulator. VMware failed to report that VS Express needed 64 bit, and gave me a very unhelpful error:

“The virtual machine management service failed to start the virtual machine ‘Emulator 8.1 U1 WVGA 512.ieuser’ because one of the Hyper-V components is not running (Virtual Machine ID: 00B303EC-5432-9116-D4E75CCC4546).”

Parallels gave me the much more helpful error with the same configuration.

The only remedy is to reinstall Windows 8.1 with a 64 bit install, which required “sourcing” a 64 Bit VM. It’s frustrating as MS throws web developers a bone to support Internet Exploder by bundling up VMs for Parallels, Virtualbox and VMware Fusion for free at but makes it impossible to use them for Windows Mobile.

If any MS employees are reading this, thanks to the team, but there’s still legwork to be done for Windows Mobile.