In Windows 8 release the Windows Driver Kit (WDK) and Debugging Tools for Windows are integrated into Visual Studio. Most of the tools you need for coding, building, packaging, testing, debugging, and deploying a driver are available in the Visual Studio user interface. However, there are situations in which you might need standalone versions of Debugging Tools for Windows, the Windows Symbols Packages, or the Windows SDK.
The Debugging Tools for Windows documentation describes six debugging environments: Visual Studio, WinDbg, KD, NTKD, CDB, and NTSD. For descriptions of the different environments, see Debugging Environments. The documentation also describes additional debugging tools and various debugging techniques.
These Microsoft debuggers are capable of running on computers with x86-based, or x64-based processors. The debuggers can debug the Windows operating system, drivers, services, and applications.
When applications, libraries, drivers, or operating systems are linked, the linker that creates the .exe and .dll files also creates a number of additional files known as symbol files. Symbol files hold a variety of data which are not actually needed when running the binaries, but which could be very useful in the debugging process.
If you want the entire set of symbols for Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, or Windows 2000, then you can download a symbol package and install it on your computer.
With Windows Remote Debugging (WRD) client, developers from Microsoft and third-party companies can collaborate to debug kernel-mode failures using the Kernel Debugger (KD). By using WRD, you can host a KD session from your location that Microsoft or any other authorized company can join remotely over the internet to help you debug kernel-mode issues.
To use WRD, you will need to be a registered partner on the Hardware Development Dashboard.
To learn more about how to sign up and use this tool:
The Windows SDK for Windows 8 is included with Visual Studio 2012. Microsoft encourages you to use Visual Studio 2012 as your development environment. However, if you do not use Visual Studio 2012, you can get a standalone version of the Windows SDK.