Installing Remote Tools and Debugging on your Surface

The Microsoft Surface is a new kind of tablet that comes in somewhere between an entertainment device and a work productivity tool. While it looks very similar to the full version of Windows 8 it actually runs Windows 8 RT on the ARM architecture. This means that the previous stable of debugging tools won’t work since they have been designed on the x64 or x86 frameworks. Microsoft has of course taken this into account and has released a new set of remote tools to aid in debugging.

The Surface is not the only WinRT device on the market but currently is the leader and will be used for demonstration and examples in this article.


Step 1

Let’s start by running the remote debugger. Open the apps page and start the ‘Remote Debugger’ application. You can get to the apps page by going to the start screen and hitting Windows Key + Z. Once it starts open the options menu item under file if it did not come up initially.

Debugger Options

On this page you will find the following authentication options.

  • Windows Authentication – Use if you are on an untrusted network or you use the same account information to access both devices.
  •  No Authentication – Use this if you are on a private network or you do not have the same accounts on both the computer and tablet.

Tip: Try to run both devices on the same network so that there is a reduced chance of a network firewall stopping the connection.

If the application is ready you will see a message that says “Msvsmon started a new server named ‘{Your Computer Name}:4016’ waiting for new connections”. This means that we can now setup our development environment for remote debugging.

Step 2

To setup visual studio just open the project properties page and switch to the debug tab. Here you can change the debug device to ‘Remote Machine’ which will allow you to enter a remote computer name or IP address that will be used as the target when running the application. Once you enter your Surface’s computer name click find to bring up the device selection window.

Remote Debugger

If no device is found then you probably do not have your authentication set correctly on the Surface or you are not on the same network as the other device. Go back to Step 1 and double check both of those items.

Step 3

Now that you have updated the target machine for your project the run button should now say ‘Remote Machine’. Run the application and instead of deploying into your local environment it will send the package over to your surface and start a new debugging session. At this point you can set breakpoints or pause as if it was running locally.

If the package does not deploy check the error code but again it is likely a problem with the authentication option you chose or not having the machines on the same network.


You should be all set now to use your surface to debug your windows 8 store applications. Debugging directly allows for a big increase in productivity and allows you to test how your application will perform on the Arm processors found in your Surface or and other Win RT devices.

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