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If you are thinking to explore SharePoint & Project Server but you do not have a Windows Server machine, here is the solution. You can build Windows Server machine on your Windows 7 laptop and Desktop. Basically you are building the new virtual server machine on your Windows 7 PC. Wow, you are saving the cost of purchasing new machine, by creating a new virtual machine on your PC. This could be possible with Virtualization (VT) technology using one of Virtual Machine software. I will be demonstrating the steps on how to build Windows Server 2012 machine on Windows 7 machine.
The new server machine is going to run on your Windows 7 using the RAM, Processor and Storage etc. So, please make sure you have enough configuration on your windows 7 machine, so you can share those with new server that you are building.
Once your server machine built, the whole server instance will be stored physically as a single file on your windows 7 machine's hard disk. So, please make sure you have enough hard disk storage available on Windows 7 machine.
To build the other machine with its own operating system (Example: Windows Server 2012) on your PC, first you need install Virtualization software on your Windows 7 machine.
If you have Windows 8 PC, you can use the Windows 8 Client Hyper-V as a VT tool.
I did some research and I found the following tools can support virtualization.
By using the below tools, you can run the additional operating systems on your PC without wiping out your original operating system.
VMWare is not a free tool and we have to purchase to use. If you have Windows 8, you can use Window 8 Client Hype-V to create VMs.
NOTE: Virtual PC 2007 supports only 32 bit operating systems and not capable to host 64 bit Windows Server 2008. (FYI: Project Server 2010 & Project Server 2013 built on 64 bit Windows Server 2008 R2.)
I have Windows 7 on my PC, so I inclined to VirtualBox from Oracle. VirtualBox is free software. It runs various operating systems like Windows, OS/2, GNU/Linux, BSD, Netware, Solaris, and L4 guests. The big plus point is, by using VirtualBox you can run 64 bit operating systems on your 32 bit PC. How cool it is.
I have been using VirtualBox since few years and its working very well for me.
The following tutorialís target audience are Project Server 2013/SharePoint 2013 professionals and the following steps will help them on creating the instance of Project Server 2013 for demo/development purpose. The rest of the audience still can use this tutorial as a reference material to create a new virtual machine with any desired operating system on Windows 7 machine.
NOTE: If you have Macbook Pro or Mac Desktop, you can still use VirtualBox to create a Windows Server machine on your Mac machine. Please follow the same steps as below to create a Windows Sever machine on your Mac laptop or desktop.
NOTE: Please use legal software installation disks with authenticated product keys for installation of software on virtual machine.
Alternatively, you can use trail software from Microsoft site.
Windows Server 2012 Trail software is available on Microsoft site to download and explore for 180 days.
The following steps describes the sequence of steps to setup Virtual machine on your windows 7 laptop/desktop.
Tutorial: Creating Virtual Windows Server 2012 64 bit machine on Windows 7 laptop/Windows 7 Desktop.