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I recently bought a laptop with Windows 7 for software development. Unfortunately, Windows 7 Home Basic comes with a limited version of IIS which is not sufficient for development.

I would like to have Windows Server 2008 R2 for server development. I don't want to format Windows 7 and install Windows Sever as I got Windows 7 with the laptop.

What is the best option of having Windows Server 2008 on my laptop without formatting Windows 7?

Any solution should not void warranty of my laptop would be best.

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Your best option is using Windows Server R2 on a Virtual Machine or even installing it on your notebook on a second boot partition. – Diogo Jun 6 '12 at 15:46
Is there any performance hit if i create a VM ? – Kumar Jun 6 '12 at 16:00
Caution some laptops have 4 primary partitions from the factory, so you have to make a decision on which partition(s) to sacrifice or other tricks to install a fifth partition… – Moab Jun 6 '12 at 16:00
The performance would be "set" from your VM manager, I mean, you could set the VM to work with half of your phisical memory, under specific processor cores or to consume a maximum processor load, but to development and testing is still the better option. – Diogo Jun 6 '12 at 16:03

You cannot simply convert Windows 7 into Windows Server 2008 R2. Your options are (in increasing order of performance penalty):

  • Dual-boot Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. You'll need to reconfigure the partitions a bit, and then boot from your 2008 R2 install media.
  • Boot Windows Server 2008 R2 from a virtual hard disk. This will have a hit on disk performance, but otherwise the server OS will be running on bare metal, so to speak. See this Technet article for more information and potential drawbacks.
  • Use virtualisation. Since Windows Server 2008 R2 is 64-bit only, this pretty much restricts your choices to VirtualBox or one of VMWare's products. This has the greatest performance penalty, especially if your processor doesn't support hardware-assisted virtualisation, but is the most portable and easiest to revert back to the original configuration (just delete the virtual machine and its related files).
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I realize this is not putting Server 2008 R2 on your laptop, but maybe you need to think about whether it needs to be at all. You really want to use the platform is all. Of course a disconnected internet state might prohibit this as an option, but....

If you have to buy a license for Server 2008 R2 anyway, you might look at using something like Amazon Web Services and run a server image on EC2.

Licensing can be included and you can likely find an image with all you want to develop against, pretty easily. Depending upon your needs it can be pretty cost effective, and simple.

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