Windows Mobile 6.1 on your desktop!

August 25, 2008

I love to mess around with my Windows Mobile phones.  My first WM phone was the HTC Apache, which I used on Verizon’s network.  It was awesome.  It came loaded with WinMo 5, which was an okay OS.  UTStarCom never offered Windows Mobile 6 or 6.1 for this phone, which basically killed the phone.

However, several amazing people found ways to get around that and they developed their own home-brewed Windows Mobile 6.1 ROMs for the Apache.  These people share their time and their work on sites like ppcgeeks.com and xda-developers.com.  They even went so far as to make it relatively easy for the rest of us to do the same thing by creating an easy-to-use application called BuildOS, which they refer to as a “kitchen” where you can “cook” your own ROM and throw several applications into the firmware image, then flash it to your phone.

Now, I’m nowhere near as hardcore as these guys.  But I do still like to enhance my phone with a number of their tools.  I’ve moved on from the Apache and now use the Sprint Mogul.  As I said, I like to mess around with my phones, which means I install and uninstall a lot of software.  To keep my phone from getting messed up, I generally test any new software in a WinMo virtual machine.  Microsoft provides these virtual machines free of charge, so it’s a great way to play with Windows Mobile and any new apps without having to commit to a full PDA phone.

Now, Microsoft doesn’t exactly make it easy to get these things up and running.  You can go to Microsoft’s site and download the Windows Mobile 6.1 Device Emulator 3.0, but it doesn’t have everything you need.  You also need the virtual machine images as well as a virtual network driver.  Microsoft doesn’t really tell you this.

So here are the steps to get the Windows Mobile virtual machines up and running so you can play around:

1.  First off, you need to get the virtual network driver.  Microsoft offers this as part of their Virtual PC 2007 software (which is also free).  Download Virtual PC 2007 and install it.  It’s about 31 MB in size, so it won’t take too long to get.  The latest release of Virtual PC 2007 as of this writing is VPC 2007 Service Pack 1.  It’s available for download here.  It can be installed on Windows Server 2003, Windows XP SP2 or higher, and most versions of Windows Vista.  It has 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

2.  Once you’ve got that installed, download the Device Emulator.  This is about 1.1 MB, so it’s really easy to get ahold of.  The latest version as of this writing is 3.0.  You can download 3.0 here.  You can install this on Windows 2003, Vista, and XP SP2 or higher.  It also has 32-bit and 64-bit flavors.  Get that installed.

3.  Now you need the actual firmware images, whice the Device Emulator needs.  This is the biggest download of the bunch, because you’re downloading whole firmware images.  You can download both Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional and 6.1 Standard images here.  WinMo Professional is the version included on PDA phones and Standard is the version included on non-phone PDAs.

That’s pretty much it.  Once everything is installed, you should have a Windows Mobile 6 SDK folder on your Start menu.  Inside that folder, there should be another folder named Standalone Emulator Images.  The images you downloaded will be in there.  There are several different versions of the images, each image dealing with a different type of Windows Mobile device.  For instance, there are images for square-screen devices with QVGA resolution and other types of devices with different resolutions.  You select the image that most corresponds with what you use on your phone.  I just use the WM 6.1 Professional image, which presents me with a virtual device that closely resembles my phone.

Now, I’m using Windows Vista Ultimate x64 on my machine.  There is one problem with running the Device Emulator on an x64 machine:  the Cellular Emulator app doesn’t work on x64 machines.  This means that your virtual phone won’t have any virtual cellular capabilities.  Since I’m just playing around with apps, this isn’t a huge deal for me, but if you’re a developer, this is definitely something to consider.  You’ll probably need an x86 dev box to install all this stuff on.  Although, since you’re required to install Virtual PC anyways, you could always create a virtual 32-bit machine for your development and testing purposes…

When you’re downloading all of the above software, there are a few notes from Microsoft on each page which discuss various known problems or bugs, as well as useful suggestions for installing the product.  Definitely read each one to see if there are any gotchas.



  1. i have the same phone.

  2. It is very sad that Microsoft still hasn’t released any update for the Cellular Emulator on Windows 64x OS and I don’t understand why?

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