Installing Developer Tools for Windows Mobile


Visual Studio is the leading development environment for building, testing and deploying applications for the Microsoft Windows platform. Visual Studio also provides the same level of support to the development of Windows Mobile applications.

In order to develop applications for Windows® phones, Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition or above or Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition or above is required. Visual Studio Express Editions are not supported. A trial version of Visual Studio is available from this MSDN download location. Visual Studio SP1 must be installed, and is available from this MSDN download location.

SDKs (Software Development Kits) are required for each family of Windows phones. The SDKs are available free of charge, and the specific versions required depend on both the platform (for example, Windows Mobile Version 5.0 or Windows Mobile 6.5) and the device format (for more information on device types, see What's New in Naming Conventions for Windows Mobile 6). Multiple SDKs can be installed on the same development machine. For Windows Mobile 6.5 development, you will probably wish to install both the Windows Mobile Professional SDK and Windows Mobile Standard SDK. The SDKs can be downloaded from this Microsoft Download Center location.


It is possible to use the Windows Mobile Version 5.0 SDKs to develop applications for Windows Mobile 6.5, but the Windows Mobile 6 SDKs (including the Windows Mobile 6.5.3 DTK) should not be used to develop applications for Windows Mobile Version 5.0 based devices. They include new features which require Windows Mobile 6 devices in order to function.

The SDKs include emulators for a variety of Windows Mobile devices, which means it is not necessary to have access to a physical device in order to develop and test software. Ideally however, a real device will be present, in which case applications can be downloaded and debugged directly on the target hardware.


Due to security restrictions imposed by hardware providers and mobile operators, not every Windows® phone is suitable for use as a development target. For more information, see Security for Windows Mobile Devices.

If your development system is running an operating system version earlier than Windows Vista, you must also install ActiveSync in order to connect a real or emulated device to the development system. If your development system is running Windows Vista, and you require data synchronization features, then you must install the Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC). ActiveSync is not required, nor is it supported, on Windows Vista. For information regarding installing software for device synchronization, see this Microsoft Web site.

The SDKs also allow the development of applications that make use of the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework. The latest Service Pack for the Compact Framework should be installed, and is available from this Microsoft Web site.

For more information about Windows Mobile development issues, please refer to the MSDN Mobility Development Center to ensure you are always using the most up-to-date software.

Installation Requirements by Operating System

The precise list of development software required depends on the development system's operating system.

Verify that the development system meets the requirements of each application.

Windows Server 2003

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Windows Server 2008

Windows 7

Important: "Visual C++ Smart Device Programmability", which is an option of Microsoft Visual Studio Setup, must be selected and installed during Visual Studio installation.

Emulators and other Development Tools

The Windows Mobile device emulators are installed as part of the Windows Mobile SDKs, but also rely on components included with Visual Studio. If you wish to use the emulators without installing Visual Studio, such as to run the application on a showcase system rather than the development system, see this Microsoft Web site.

The SDKs include other tools to aid with development. For a list, see Development Tools and Resources for Windows Mobile.

Installation Locations

Developer Tool Description

Visual Studio

Visual Studio Standard Edition or above is required. A trial edition available.

Visual Studio SP1

Service Pack 1 for Visual Studio.

Visual Studio Service Pack for Windows Vista

Additional Service Pack required when running Visual Studio under Windows Vista.

Windows Mobile 6 SDKs

SDKs required to develop applications for Windows Mobile 6.5.

Windows Mobile 6.5.3 DTK

Tool kit for developing Windows Mobile 6.5 applications. Windows Mobile 6 SDK required.

Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK for Pocket PC

Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK for Smartphone

SDKs required to develop applications for Windows Mobile Version 5.0.

ActiveSync and Windows Mobile Device Center

Software required for connecting Windows Mobile devices with the development workstation.

Compact Framework v2 SP2

Service Pack for Compact Frameworks.

See Also

Other Resources

Welcome to Windows Mobile 6.5 Documentation
Development Tools and Resources for Windows Mobile