So you say anyone can build a phone app…OK I am going to test that theory!

Don’t get me wrong, I can write code, in fact I love to code, I really do. I think most of us who enjoy logic, enjoy programming. It’s all the other stuff that makes me want to bang my head against the wall, trying to figure out what tool to use, installing the tool, figuring out how to compile, configure, and deploy and test stuff.  I have been told that if you can code you can build a phone app. I am going to put that to the test by building and publishing an application from scratch and sharing my story in a series of blog posts so maybe you can do the same!

If you talk to any of my co-workers they will attest that although I am nobody’s fool, for whatever reason when it comes to installing and configuring stuff, I need help. I don’t even know how to install a printer, so I really do believe if I can do it anyone can.

I work for Microsoft and one of the things I do is talk to people about Windows Phone, so of course I am going to build a Windows Phone app, which I am told is the easiest platform for developing phone applications. We’ll see if it’s really as easy as they say. Ready? Okay here we go!

Step 1: Download and install the development tool.

Because of my job I do know where to go to download the toolkit:Go to  App Hub and then click on the tile that says Download the free tools


That takes me to a page that says develop for Windows Phone 7.5 and Xbox LIVE Indie Games. Xbox would be cool, but I want to build a phone app so I am going to choose download the Windows Phone SDK 7.1 (of course if anyone reads this in a year, there will no doubt be a newer version)


Okay now it takes me to the Download Center and there are two files to download, the release notes and an executable.

imageWell that’s pretty straightforward, I hate it when the download is 6 different files and I can’t figure out which is the 32 bit version and which is the 64 bit version and stuff like that. I admit I don’t always read all the release notes and caveats but since I am blogging today I will actually read some of the stuff on the page.

The windows phone SDK includes the following

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone – Sweet! That means this gives me a version of Visual Studio, so that’s the program I will use to write my code. So now I know what tool to use.
  • Windows Phone Emulator – Okay I know what this is, this is the testing tool so you can test a phone application without having an actual phone, nice that it comes with the SDK.
  • A bunch of extensions and assemblies including XNA and Silverlight. I have never done XNA, I know a bit about Silverlight but not that much, let’s hope I don’t need to become a Silverlight guru, WCF data services, Microsoft Advertising SDK,… okay so it has a bunch of stuff built in for different features, I’ll worry about that later

System Requirements okay that I should look at…

  • Windows Vista (x86 and x64) with Service Pack 2 Why do they do that? everyone talks about 32 bit and 64 bit but they always call it x86 and x64, I assume x86 is 32-bit so that means I can install this on a 32 or 64 bit OS. That’s good.
  • Windows 7  (x86 and x64) all editions except Starter Edition (I have Windows 7 on my laptop, hopefully it is not starter edition, not sure how to check, I’ll worry about that if the install fails)
  • 4GB free disk space
  • 3GB RAM
  • Windows Phone Emulator requires a DirectX or above capable graphics card with a WDDM 1.1 driver (I have no idea if my laptop has that stuff, I guess I will find out when I try to use the emulator)

There is also a note saying if you have the earlier version of the phone SDK you must install that first. Hah now I do actually have to do that because I started trying to build a phone app this summer, and then got distracted. I guess it pays to read the instructions!  And of course no instructions on how to uninstall. Luckily I do know enough to try  Start – Control Panel – Programs – Uninstall a programimage

Of course there are a bunch of components with Windows Phone in the name, I think I need to uninstall Windows Phone SDK and all the other stuff like Windows SDK add in for visual Studio and Expression Blend SDK for Windows Phone are part of that SDK. Pick Uninstall/Change, then a window comes up asking repair or uninstall I choose uninstall, click OK…wait a while and done. Now I can download the release notes (I want to look thorough since I am blogging about this). Wow a lot of stuff in there, but what matters will depend on your installation. For me an important fact was the fact that if you have Visual Studio 2010 on your pc (which I do) you need SP1, but this same SDK will work whether or not you have Visual Studio 2010. Basically if you don’t have Visual Studio you get Visual Studio Express. If you do have Visual Studio 2010 it will install a sort of add-on so you can develop phone apps in your existing Visual Studio.

Now I am ready to install the actual SDK! I just downloaded vm_web2.exe when I double click on it. Hah! I don’t have enough hard drive space. Figures, nothing is ever simple for me! Okay time to move a few of my photos onto an external hard drive. Now I can try again, a few “I agree” and “Ok” clicks and I get a message telling me it is successfully installed.

I go to Start All Programs, since I have Visual Studio installed I can launch Visual Studio, if you don’t have Visual Studio, then after you install the toolkit you would launch Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone.

Select File | New Project and look at that I have two new project types for building Windows Phone applications! Silverlight for Windows Phone and XNA Game Studio.


Well okay that was easier than I expected. So far so good. Next blog I’ll figure out how to build and test a simple application. Wish me luck and join me on my adventure download the SDK today and start thinking about what your app will be!

This blog post also appears on the Go Dev Mental blog

3 responses to this post.

  1. […] Part 1 – Installing the tools […]


  2. Everything is very open with a very clear description of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your website is useful. Many thanks for sharing!


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