This article is a continuation in a series. If you would like to view the previous post, you may do so with the following link.


In deciding what configurations you would like to set up for your laptop, there are several factors that you should evaluate. I created a presentation in December of 2009 that covers much of this information and it is available at the Colorado SharePoint Users Group site ( In this article we will take a look at the following topics:

  • Operating System Overview
  • Dedicated OS
  • Bootable VHDs
  • Virtualization Options
  • Recommendations from Microsoft

It may surprise some of you that SharePoint Server 2010 can be installed on Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2. Each of these operating systems will need to be 64 bit. If you are installing on Windows Vista, you will need to ensure that you are running at least Service Pack 1 x64.

You may have noticed that SharePoint 2010 comes with a nifty prerequisites installer. This only works for the Server 2008 products, so you will need to manually configuration the prerequisites for Vista or Windows 7.

NOTE: Microsoft has released an article “Setting Up the Development Environment for SharePoint 2010 on Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008” that will walk you through the configuration and installation steps for the various operation systems. You can access the article here.

If you are setting up a single development environment to test SharePoint development, Windows 7 probably isn’t a bad option. I am always setting up new environments and testing various configurations, so to me, Windows Server 2008 (R2) is the best option for me. This allows me to run Hyper-V and have various images that I can bring up depending on what I am trying to accomplish. This kind of environment requires more RAM, so it is not something you can pull off if you only have 4 GB of RAM. For those of you with this limitation, installing on Windows 7 is a fantastic option as it will let you capitalize on all 4 GB of memory. If you have a need to run multiple images, bootable VHDs will be a great way to give you some flexibility.

Running on a dedicated OS definitely has some advantages, but I am not sure they out way the flexibility.

Installing on Windows Vista or Windows 7 provides hibernate and sleep support but does not allow you to use all of the features of SharePoint 2010. I originally started with a dual boot environment so that I could use Windows 7 for most of my work and then reboot to Server 2008 R2 for my SharePoint demos. I then found that most of what I wanted to do was always on the other side and I didn’t want to install the same software on both sides. Windows Server 2008 has won me over and is my OS of choice. My next article will provide a step-by-step walk through of how I configured my environment.

Bootable VHDs allow you to run a virtualized environment in 64 bit and is a great option if you have limited resources. There is a Windows 7 – VHD Boot –Setup Guideline available on MSDN here. In the article, it covers the advantages and disadvantages of this type of configuration and walks you through using DiskPart to set up your environment.

Virtualization in my mind offers the most flexibility. I am able to configure complex architectures for Claims Based Authentication and external Service Application farms. This is a huge advantage if you are serving as both a developer and architect. You have several options for virtualization: Hyper-V, VirtualBox, and VM Ware are among the leaders. Whatever your personal opinion on Hyper-V, I think it rocks in my laptop and gives me the flexibility to do what I need. The down side to using virtualization is that the host machine requires RAM, so if you are limited, this may be too much of a price to pay. I believe you will need at least 6 gigs before considering virtualization as an option and this may still not be enough. It will depend on how much RAM you plan on breaking up on your VMs. If you are maintaining an isolated SQL Server, you would obviously need more than if you set up a virtual farm with SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server. SharePoint 2010 requires much more RAM this time around. I found a decent balance giving SharePoint 3 GB, SQL 1.5, and my host 1 GB. I had another virtual machine for Active Directory that I assigned 512 k, making it a total of 6 GB. Many sources state that virtualization is slower than running on bare metal, and while this is probably the case, I don’t notice it in what I do.

I see no benefit at all in virtualizing Windows 7 or Vista as a SharePoint host, so if you are going to virtualize, Windows Server 2008 is my recommendation. Here are some of the factors related to virtualization with Server 2008:

  • You can move or redistribute the servers
  • You have options for save state, snapshots, and live migration
  • You can build high availability solutions

Jie Li, Technical Product Manager for SharePoint, released the following recommendations:


  • Dual Boot
  • VHD to Windows 7
  • Virtualization

IT Pro

  • 2008/R2
  • Virtualization


In the next article, I will walk you through the choices I made setting up my environment using Hyper-V: Configuring Windows Server 2008 for Virtualization



4 thoughts on “Laptop Configurations

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