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How to install Surface Duo emulator on Windows 10

Surface Duo emulator installed on Windows 10
Surface Duo emulator installed on Windows 10 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft has recently made available its emulator for the upcoming Surface Duo, the foldable (dual-screen) device with two 5.6-inch displays, for developers to start adding support to their apps. However, the release of the emulator also reveals some of the work the company has been making for the new mobile OS, which gives us a glimpse of what to expect when the Surface Duo becomes available.

Our senior Windows reporter, Zac Bowden, published a walkthrough video showing off navigation gestures, apps in a dual-screen mode, and Microsoft Launcher. However, if you want to play around with the new OS, or you're a developer trying to get started adapting your apps for the new form factor, you can install the Surface Duo emulator on your Windows 10 device.

The Surface Duo OS is based on the Google Android OS, and the emulator is based on the Google emulator platform using the support for dual displays.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to install the emulator to start testing and get a feeling of Surface Duo.

How to install Surface Duo emulator on Windows 10

The Surface Duo emulator has a two-part installation. You must install Visual Studio 2019 first, and then you need to install the emulator files.

Install Visual Studio 2019

To install Visual Studio 2019 to test the Surface Duo emulator, use these steps:

Quick tip: If you already have Visual Studio 2019 installed on your computer, you can skip these steps and continue with the emulator installation. However, you may want to review the steps below to make sure that you have the Android Emulator installed.

  1. Open Visual Studio 2019 download page (opens in new tab).
  2. Under the "Community" section, click the Free download button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Save the file on your computer.
  2. Double-click the installer to launch the Visual Studio 2019 setup.
  3. Click the Continue button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Workloads" section, check the Mobile development with .NET package.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Install button from the bottom-right corner.
  2. Click the Launch button.
  3. Click the Not now, maybe later option unless you have an account to sign in.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Use the default selections for "Start with a familiar environment" and "Choose your color theme."
  2. Click the Start Visual Studio button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Continue without code option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Tools menu, select the Android item, and choose the Android SDK Manager option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Tools tab.
  2. Click and expand the Android Emulator branch.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Confirm the Android Emulator is installed.

Once you complete the steps, you can close all the Visual Studio related windows, and you can proceed with the setup of the Surface Duo emulator.

Install Surface Duo emulator

To install the Surface Duo emulator on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Surface Duo SDK Preview download page (opens in new tab).
  2. Click the Download button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Check the SurfaceDuoPreview_EmulatorOSImage_and_APIs_2020 item from the list.
  2. Click the Next button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Save the zip file on your computer.
  2. Double-click to open the container.
  3. Click the Extract all button from the "Compressed Folder Tools" tab.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Browse button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the extraction folder location.
  2. Click the Select Folder button.
  3. Click the Extract button.
  4. Double-click the SurfaceDuoEmulator_xxxx.xxx.x.exe file.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Next button.
  2. Select the I accept the agreement option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Next button.
  2. Click the Next button again.
  3. (Optional) Click the Browse button to select an alternate installation folder.
  4. Click the Next button.
  5. Click the Install button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Finish button.

After you complete the steps, the emulator will install, and you should be able to start it with the link in the Start menu or desktop.

Start Surface Duo emulator

To launch the Surface Duo emulator, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Surface Duo Emulator and click the top result to launch the experience.
  3. Use the controllers in the right side to rotate, navigate, take screenshots, control volume, and turn of the emulator.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Continue testing the Surface Duo experience.

Once you complete the steps, the Surface Duo emulator will launch (but it could take a while), and then you can now play around or start developing for the platform. (You can also use the mouse or touch to navigate the OS.)

If you want to learn more, you can check the Microsoft documentation (opens in new tab), and for SDK samples, you should visit this Surface Duo GitHub page.

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

14 Comments
  • oh okay thanks
  • I tried it, the DUO emulator never opens
  • Opens for Zach...
  • You need to change repository for Google. Visual Studio > Tools > Android SDK Manager > Settings button > Repository > Google (Unsupported). Press Install updates button.
  • I tried to open the emulator and it does not even open. I followed the instructions and it does not work for me.
  • Yeah same here
  • I downloaded the app, but my screen hasn't turned double, but TRIPLED!!
  • You must have accidentally installed the Trio emulator.
  • I was also unable to get the emulator to launch. After some poking around I uncovered some problems in the c:\users\<profile>\SurfaceDuoEmulator\artifacts\run.bat file. Editing the file as follows got the emulator to launch for me: Changed this:
    set ANDROID_SDK_LOCATION=\Android\Sdk
    to this:
    set ANDROID_SDK_LOCATION=C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk Changed this:
    set EMULATOR=\emulator\emulator.exe
    to this:
    set EMULATOR="\emulator\emulator.exe"
  • If Emulator doesn't run: 1. Change repository for Google. Visual Studio > Tools > Android SDK Manager > Settings button > Repository > Google (Unsupported). Press Install updates button. 2. Then (thanks to Larry Kuhn) change this:
    set ANDROID_SDK_LOCATION=\Android\Sdk
    to this:
    set ANDROID_SDK_LOCATION=C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk Changed this:
    set EMULATOR=\emulator\emulator.exe
    to this:
    set EMULATOR="\emulator\emulator.exe" 3. In "Turn Windows features On or Off" check the "Windows Hypervisor Platform"
    4. Reboot your PC.
  • Im still waiting for the “surface tesseract”... two screens isn’t enough for me... I need 4 dimensional cube of LCD screens...
  • "The Surface Duo OS is based on the Google Android OS" I thought it WAS Android. Are you saying that MS has forked Android and created a new OS?
  • Good catch. At least someone is paying attention.
  • Playing around the Duo Emulator. It is at least being skinned since the UI theme is not of the stock Android 10 and certainly been modified for dual-screen use. Switching apps for example are vertical instead of horizontal which Android 10 normally does, and it does not even have Recent apps either in multi-tasking screen.