SharePoint 2013 Development Environments 5/5 (1)

Category: SharePoint

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There are several different ways to go about building a SharePoint 2013 development / test box. I have tried to categorize them into different scenarios, please see below:

  1. Prebuilt VHD or VMWare files for a quick and easy virtual install with Hyper-V or VMWare
  2. Different scenarios you can use to create an environment
  3. Detailed, step-by-step instructions on how you create the environment you select
  4. Other resources
  5. Example “rigs” (meaning expensive laptops people have purchased to make SP2013 run on a local environment)
  6. Don’t do it!
  7. Where to go for help if none of these options work for you


Pre-Built SharePoint 2013 VHD for Hyper-v Environments for Download

  • There is now a download for Lync 2013 that happens to contain a SharePoint 2013, 180 day trial. However it is in 3 large downloads, and you need to host the VM’s on a server which has 24 Gb of RAM and 150 Gb of disk space. Download Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 (thank you to Benoit HAMET for the info)
  • Use the free Starwind converter or the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter to convert a VMDK (VMWare) drive into a VHD
  • Be or become a Microsoft Partner to obtain the preconfigured SharePoint 2013 VHD
  • Join a free trial of Azure and download the VM from the machine that it creates for you – (I am not sure if this is only SharePoint and missing SQL however, thanks to Scott for this idea)

If you know of another source please Tweet me or comment below!


Pre-Built WMWX for VMWare SharePoint Environments for Download


Create Your Own Virtual SharePoint 2013 Hosted Cloud Environment

  • Instructions & Caveats to Use Azure to create a SharePoint 2013 virtual environment (trial versions are available but PLEASE READ my article on Windows Azure Pricing Examples for SharePoint AND THE RISK OF REMOVING YOUR MONTHLY LIMIT! I accidentally left on my VM and had a very large bill, please don’t make this mistake.)
  • Use Office 365 for Developers (this has limitations but is better than nothing) – MSDN subscribers get 1 year free, check your MSDN account for info
  • Use a cloud based service with a pre-configured SharePoint 2013 VM such as CloudShare (I didn’t have such a great experience with this but you should make your own judgement)
  • Use a cloud based service with a pre-configured SharePoint 2013 VM such as Amazon Web Services (special setup may be needed)
  • Pay for a managed, higher quality, yet more expensive hosting account with FP Web, SharePoint Hoster, Apps4Rent or Rackspace.


Different Ways to Create Your Own SharePoint 2013 Environment from Scratch (Either on Your Own Hardware Hosted Locally or Hosted in the Cloud)

  • Install Windows Server on a computer and install SQL & SharePoint on it (but then you only have a server and no regular PC and have to deal with trial versions or have demo licenses)
  • Install Windows server on a different boot with SQL & SharePoint (but then you to reboot to select your other, regular Windows environment and deal with trial versions or have demo licenses)
  • Buy VMWareWorkstation and install a Virtual Machine with Windows Server, SQL & SharePoint (but you will have to deal with trial versions or have demo licenses)
  • Buy Windows 8 which has Hyper-V built in and install Windows Server, SQL & SharePoint (but you will have to deal with trial versions or have demo licenses)
  • Use the cloud based Azure IaaS and use one of these pre-made SharePoint Azure PowerShell Automation Configuration Scripts to setup the environment
  • Use a cloud based service with nothing on it and install the Windows Server, SQL & SharePoint on this (probably a bit more expensive long term with monthly fees and you will have to deal with trial versions or have software licenses)

If you do not want to deal with trial version licensing, you could try to become a Microsoft partner and purchase the lower cost Action Pack or possible be approved for the BizSpark program. Technet is now officially gone and there is no low cost licensing option for software from Microsoft for consumers that I am aware of.

Detailed Instructions on How to Install & Setup a SharePoint 2013 Development Environment


Other Resources

  • Microsoft Test Lab Guides – Can help with some of the configuration issues of Windows Server, Authentication, SQL, etc.


Examples & Computer Hardware or “rigs” from Others


Don’t Do It!

I know you may be tempted to try and break the rules as a developer/IT pro, but…you probably shouldn’t try or won’t be able to do the following with your dev environment:

  • You cannot install it on Windows 7 like you could with SP2010 (Windows 8 has Hyper-V built in)
  • If you have less than 12G of memory on a single server install, in my opinion, don’t bother. It will be so slow it is practically pointless. Hey they have 32GB laptops now! Also, I have seen some people saying that their Mac Book Pro’s with only 16GB run well enough to use.


Where Do I Go for Help if I Cannot Configure My Environment?

It depends to be honest. Depending on which platform you are using will depend on the type of help you need. I would try the help forums on Stack Exchange, SharePoint Community, SP Yammer or LinkedIn.

*NOTE: I will try to update this post as more and more options appear all over the internet.

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  1. Hello Matthew, many many thanks for your excellent write up here, really looking forward to giving this VM approach a try!
    Matthew, just wondering what will happen to the overall setup when a particular component’s trial expires, will i then have to purchase a license or can i just reactivate/reload/reset any or all of the the trials and continue on?
    Thanks for any insights on this question Matthew and happy holidays!

  2. Hi Bob,

    With most MSFT trials, after the trial period expires I believe it goes through a series of warnings (where it does crazy things like auto rebooting constantly to drive you crazy) until you really can’t use the software normally anymore. In most cases you can uninstall the software and reinstall it but you will not have the setup or configuration you performed. One advantage of doing this virtually is that you can take a snapshot of the setup at a moment in time when it was working and just reset it back to that time when the trial was working. Since MSFT retired the Technet subscriptions, there isn’t really an affordable way to get test licenses unfortunately 🙁 , I believe the lowest legal way to obtain a license is with a MSDN Premium subscription which is several thousand dollars. So, if you are on a budget you will probably want to consider a virtual scenario or just know you will have to reinstall and setup everything again after the trial expires.

    Hope this helps,


  3. Hi Matthew thanks for putting together loads of information regarding the SharePoint 2013 virtual machines.Do you or any one have an idea that when would Microsoft release the virtual machines for Information Workers like they had released in past IW2010 for SharePoint 2010.

  4. Hi Nauman,

    I have no idea on this one. It is odd that 2013 has been out so long and that they have not released a VHD to the general public such as they did with previous versions. I have not heard anything from anyone I know about one coming out either but if I do I will let you know. For now, you will probably have to build our own environment unless you are an MSFT partner which they did create a VHD to use as a selling tool.


  5. Hi,
    I have tried with Gaurav Mahajan’s virtual machine download link. His post seem all he put is expired version of all server. Did any one else tried the latest download and how it works? His posts are highly confusing.

    Do you know any workable VHD to download?


  6. Hi Jon,

    I had the same issue. I have never understood the trial period time length on any virtual configuration of SharePoint as they are always expired (even the one for SP2010 MSFT released). My suggestion is to download your own free trials of Windows OS, SQL & SharePoint and create your own machine on VMWare. I use the desktop pro version of VMWare which costs some but I think there is a free version that does some things out there.

    Hope this helps.


  7. I like what you guys are up too. Such intelligent work and reporting!Keep up the excellent works guys I have incorporated

  8. Really you did great research and hardwork to write “Ways to Create Your Own SharePoint 2013 Environment”…really i was looking for this answer and got it from your blog Thanks @MatthewBailey keep it up

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