Microsoft released developer tools for Windows Phone 7 Series a few days ago, complete with an emulator that you could use to test out new apps designed for the platform. But if you downloaded the emulator (which was built into Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone), you may have noticed that it didn’t really provide the full WP7S experience. In fact, out of the box, all you could do was play with the web browser.

That all changed last night when Dan Ardean figured out how to “unlock” the emulator image so that you can access all of the built in applications. He posted the image online briefly, but decided to pull the file lest Microsoft get upset. Fortunately, there are several mirrors, which means you can download the image yourself.

OK, so here’s how it works. You download and install the developer tools from Microsoft. Then you download and install Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1. Finally, you download the WP7S image, rename the file to WM70C1.bin, and replace theold WM70C1.bin file, which should be in your C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\WindowsPhone\v7.0\Emulation\Images directory.

To launch the emulator, fire up Visual Studio 10 Express and create a new project. You’ll see a picture of a Windows Phone 7 Series device on the left side of the screen. Hit F5 to launch a standalone emulator. You can also follow these instructions to launch the emulator without first running Visual Studio.

Now you should be able to play with all the apps that come preloaded with Windows Phone 7 Series — or at least this early pre-release build. There’s plenty of time for things to change before WP7S phones actually hit the streets.

But here are just a few of the things you can play with in the emulator:

  • Mobile office apps including Excel, Word, and OneNote
  • See live tiles on the home screen
  • Zune music, movie, and photo application
  • Calendar and contacts
  • File Explorer and task manager
  • Windows Live Maps
  • Internet Explorer web browser

While you can’t actually download anything from the Windows Marketplace you can also get a good feel for how it works. You can also get a sense of how the overall user interface works including the zooming and scrolling action, window animations, and the on-screen keyboard. The mobile office apps look fairly powerful — even if there is no copy and paste. For example, you can even insert charts in Excel, although I had a hard time figuring out how to do simple things, like generate a sum for several numbers.

You can check out some more images of the Windows Phone 7 Series interface after the break. I also shot a 10 minute first look video, which is embedded below.

via PocketNow and istartedsomething

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...