Debugging on your Windows RT Device without a Network Connection

Debugging on your Windows RT Device without a Network Connection

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Visual Studio 2012 allows you to debug your application on your Windows RT device so that you can develop the application the same way that your customers will use it.  Remote debugging is over your local network, which is really convenient when you are at home or at work and both machines are on the same network. To learn more about how to setup that please read on MSDN about Remote Debugging Windows Store apps.

What if you are on the road and there is no suitable network available?  Often networks in hotels, airports, or coffee shops will block incoming connections. In this blog post you will learn how to achieve remote debugging even in that situation by making a physical connection and configuring the project properties correctly.

Make the physical connection

The good news is that there is an option to connect your development machine directly to your Windows RT device.  There are just two things that you will need:

1)      A standard Ethernet cable

2)      A USB Ethernet adapter (since most Windows RT devices do not have an Ethernet port), such as the ASIX 88772C or Realtek 8152B.

Plug the USB Ethernet adapter into the Window RT device and then connect the two machines with the Ethernet cable.

You might be thinking that you need some sort of special cross-over Ethernet cable to connect two computers through their Ethernet ports, but this is unnecessary with modern networking hardware.

Project Properties Configuration

Now it’s just a matter of configuring your project to use this connection. 

As when remote debugging on a local network, you begin by launching the remote debugger on your Windows RT device. 

Select your project and choose “Properties” from the context menu.  Then click on the Debug properties tab.  From the debug settings, you will want to launch the Remote Debugger Connections dialog in order to select this connection.  You bring up this dialog in slightly different ways depending on your project type.

For C# or Visual Basic projects, click on the “Find” button as shown below.

For JavaScript or C++ projects, you will want to click on the Remote Machine dropdown and select “<Locate…>” for JavaScript or “<Edit…>” for C++, shown below.


 After taking one of the previous actions you’ll see the dialog shown below.


In the dialog you can see your Windows RT device in the list of available connections.  Select this connection and debug away – it is that simple!

Troubleshooting Note: If you are not seeing this machine show up, you should check to make sure you have not blocked discovery of devices on public networks.  You can configure this under your Network settings.

I'd love to hear any questions/feedback that you may have so please leave a comment below.

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  • Great Post thanks Brad!

  • What also works really well is using a Bluetooth connection (PAN). Btw I don't think there are any USB Ethernet adapters compatible with Windows RT at the moment.

  • Hi Matthijs, thanks for adding the point about Bluetooth PAN.  We have tested the above scenario with retail USB Ethernet adapters and it works great.

  • Brad, you say that you've "tested the above scenario with retail USB Ethernet adapters and it works great." Please tell us which retail USB adapters you've tested with. As far as I've been able to discern, there are no USB to Ethernet adapters that currently work with RT due to the fact that Microsoft will not allow third party driver installs.

  • As Stiles said, Microsoft is currently not allowing manufacturers to make USB Ethernet adapter 3rd party drivers for the Surface RT. I'm not sure if my laptop has Bluetooth, but I'm about to check and see. Hopefully I do this via Bluetooth.

  • Need a list of compatible USB/Ethernet adapters. The ones I have seen state they are *not* compatible with Windows RT (if they state anything at all about Windows RT).

  • This cable is a Type-A Male to Sort-A Male USB 2.0 cable rated up to 480Mbps.

    It is employed to extend the space between your USB 2.0 peripheral (mouse, keyboard etc.) that is equipped with a sort A male connector and another device such as a USB Switch Box.

  • Here is a list of compatible USB Ethernet adapters that the Debugger team tested for remote debugging on Windows 8.1 RT and are known to work:

    ASIX AX88772A

    ASIX AX88772C

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