Let me qualify my question with these points:

  • There is only one developer.
  • The developer is the server administrator.
  • The production server is Windows 2008, iis7.5, Sharepoint 2010 Enterprise, and we have a copy of VS 2010 Enterprise, and Active Directory.
  • We are too poor to buy another server, but we can purchase a workstation
  • I prefer to work from my workstation with a RDP connection to the server.

Some questions I thought of:

  • Is there a way to do the development from my workstation?
  • Will installing Sharepoint and Windows Server on my dev machine require a second set of licenses, or are the ones I have for production sufficient (and M$ understands)?
  • Do I need to purchase another license for VS and SP2010?
  • Is it preferable use a virtual machine or a real machine?

I found this post, which is related: Sharepoint 2010 Development Environment Set-up

What I am leaning toward is to purchase a 64-bit system with Windows 7 and lots of RAM and using that for development (right now I am still using XP).

[edit] The idea of using a virtual drive is quite appealing, and it appears that extra licenses must be purchased for that too - but aren't licenses for VS and Sharepoint (and Server) only good for a few installations? With that in mind, it seems a regular hard drive (SSD, as is pointed out below) would be better.

7 Answers 7


As long as you keep with the minimal HW & SW prerequisites (i'm using for many months on my DELL Latitude D6510 - 8GB RAM, 320 HDD, Windows 7 X64 as a development environment.

If its a development you could even consider VHD boot to build your BASE Windows 7 X64 VHD Expandable (choose MAX 100 GB - VS2010, etc. takes a lot of space and EXPANDABLE) and create differential disks for your SharePoint 2010 specific environments - this should gain a lot of time.

In these conditions you can even consider using the Trial Versions (unless you have already licenses).

Hope it helps, C:\Marius

  • Pardon my ignorance, but what do you mean by HW and SW? Also, please describe for me what you mean by "BASE" and "EXPANDABLE". Methinks you are talking over my (hard) head!
    – bgmCoder
    May 8, 2012 at 15:36
  • 1. HW & SW= Hardware & Software 2. When working with VHD boot you can create a Base disk on which you install Windows+ drivers+ sql+..etc. and use it as the basis for anything later. Use CREATE VDISK FILE="D:\W7_base.vhd" MAXIMUM=102400 TYPE=Expandable" - 100GB Max. (parent disk will never take all space, but child disks will). Once you install all base SW you can create multiple differential disks with stuff already installed, using (in CMD > DISKPART) CREATE VDISK FILE=D:\VHD\W7_SP2010.vhd" PARENT="D:\VHD\W7_Base.VHD" - this will get you the CHILD disk to install ONLY SharePoint. May 8, 2012 at 15:50
  • (Sorry I didn't get the SW and HW...) Thanks for the clarifications. How does developing on the VHD differ from using a regular installation?
    – bgmCoder
    May 8, 2012 at 20:11
  • Is absolutely the same, but with VHD you basically have the OS running in a single file. Performance penalty around 3% apparently, but instead re-installing the whole OS you start from a base previously prepared! Besides, you don't have the penalty of running 2 host OS as in the case of using virtualization. May 8, 2012 at 20:20
  • This is interesting (I gave you my +1), but where do I look for a good guide for this? It sounds to me like you are describing a sort of Virtual "template" for an operating system, and then applying replaceable "children".
    – bgmCoder
    May 8, 2012 at 21:02

You will need licenses for the development environments as well. Microsoft offers MSDN subscription (Premium includes also SharePoint) for this purpose, and while the subscription is not free, it is considerably cheaper than actual production licenses of Windows Server and SharePoint Enterprise.

If you are a startup, see if BizSpark would suit for you. Also, in case you wonder, TechNet subscription is not suitable for development. See this comparison.

After you got the licenses figured out, it is quite alright to have a separate workstation that you use as development "server", and you connect to that using RDP, or just use it directly. There is no requirement to have a rack server for development.

  • What about using Sharpoint Foundation for development? Would that platform provide enough for me to make webparts and custom solutions?
    – bgmCoder
    May 8, 2012 at 15:09
  • Absolutely (provided that Foundation is sufficient in feature wise), but you will still need Windows Server license and VS license.
    – Jussi Palo
    May 9, 2012 at 4:31
  • Do the licenses I have for VS 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 Enterprise include the allowance to set up a second copy just for development?
    – bgmCoder
    May 11, 2012 at 3:54
  • there is also a 'DreamSpark' program for academic people & institutions (which offers MS software at a discount) - dreamspark.com/Default.aspx May 11, 2012 at 20:07
  • VS 2010 and SharePoint 2010 Enterprise do not include development licenses, so you will need separate ones for your development box.
    – Jussi Palo
    May 14, 2012 at 9:40

If you are running Windows 7 x64 (Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate) then you can run SharePoint on it directly if you like. This means you make the most use of your available RAM. However, it does have downsides in that you cant take advantage of things like snapshots that you would get with a virtualization technology like Hyper-V or VMWare.

An easy way to set up your development environment is to use SP Easy Setup scripts which will assist installing all the products you need to get started with SharePoint developent. They are powershell scripts so you can modify them to your needs if required. You can find them here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/cjohnson/archive/2010/10/28/announcing-sharepoint-easy-setup-for-developers.aspx

Hope this helps.

  • Thanks for the answer. That seems like a useful link you provided! +1. Practically speaking, what is the difference between running all the dev stuff on a virtual machine and running it actually? Which is the better way to go?
    – bgmCoder
    May 8, 2012 at 20:07

Use a virtual machine if you can. With a VM, you can roll back to a pristine state at any time should you mess things up(and you will). You can also add an AD domain and as many users as you will need to test different security scenarios(security considerations are a big deal in SharePoint development). Also with a VM you can create snapshots for testing your solutions against different patch levels of the product. Lastly, with a VM your regular work station will not get mucked up with all the overhead incurred by a SharePoint installation.

I use Oracle VirtualBox - it's free and performs better than or as well as VMWare or Hyper-V.


I think your question topic has been well addressed by all the answers here. I would like to add a small pointer though - use SSD drives (good reliable ones like Intel or Samsung or any other well-reviewed ones). The SSDs' prices have fallen recently, making it quite affordable. The performance increases in a SharePoint environment using SSDs goes a very long way and tremendously benefiting the developers.

  • Do you mean you would recommend a SSD over a HDD? Yes, I know the question has been well-answered so far, and am almost ready to accept.
    – bgmCoder
    May 11, 2012 at 19:28
  • 1
    Yes for development (& demos).. there are some mixed results as some feel the gains are only during startup/shutdown time (of the VM /HW) but I think it's a lot more.. here's a small post regarding the SSD improvements - vojtan.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/… and another post - planetwilson.co.uk/2010/03/… May 11, 2012 at 19:45

Have you checked out CloudShare - they have a load of options and its so quick to get started. Depending on how long you want it for they also do a 30 day fully functioning trial. All of the environments are all pre-configured.


Cheap answer is to install SharePoint onto your Windows 7 Hard Drive. However, your question was "Best" and for that you will need to get VMWorkstation 11.0 + MSDN Premium subscription. You will need to install SP2013, SQL, and AD, and Win all onto their own VM network (so get a host with iCore 7 + 32 GB Ram and a fast Hard Drive. USB 3 is slower but works if you can't get an internal SSD. If you need a step-by-step guide how to do this, just let me know.

If you want the easy way (not the best in my opinion) then login to Azure and create a SP2013 or SP2016 Farm. It has everything I mentioned above but all the configuration is done for you. You login using MSTSC + IP Address to get a VM in the cloud. Once logged in you can install whatever tools you need.

  • I ended up installing Windows 7 on VirtualBox. Worked like a charm too, until management moved to Office365. :(
    – bgmCoder
    Apr 22, 2018 at 1:17

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