Last month at the SharePoint conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft unveiled the feature set and hardware requirements for SharePoint 2010. 2010 requires 64 bit hardware and that might mean a significant re-platforming of your existing developer machines. With MOSS 2007 developers were free to run a test environment on their 32 bit machines using Virtual PC. Bamboo Solutions even came up with an innovative solution to run MOSS 2007 locally on Vista machines
However, If you are a SharePoint developer and you currently have a 32 bit machine, there are some significant changes coming down the road.
First, move on to a 64 bit platform if you can. Irrespective of whatever OS you run(Windows 7 , Vista or Windows Server 2008) moving to a 64 bit platform provides you the flexibility to run 64-bit 2010 Virtual machines natively using Hyper-V or VMWare Server or Virtual Box
If you are running Windows 7 and do not want to deal with VMs, there is an interesting option called “Boot from VHD” in Windows 7. With this option, you could boot directly into a Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 test environment VHD and hence leverage all of your system resources within the VHD. Here is a great post that talks about the steps to prepare a VHD and boot from it.
If you are stuck with a 32 bit machine and you are not part of a hardware refresh cycle, you have one option. If your machine has a Intel/AMD chipset that supports virtualization, make sure to update your BIOS by visiting the manufacturer’s website. Once your BIOS is updated, you should see an option to turn on Virtualization within your BIOS setup. After turning on virtualization within the BIOS, you can run your 2010 VMs. Currently, VMWare Server 2.0 and Sun’s VirtualBox support running 64 bit guests on 32 bit hosts. The performance of these VMs on 32 bit hosts leave a lot to be desired and is definitely not recommended for hard core SharePoint development. You will be better off developing off of a Hyper-V or VMware Server hosting your VMs remotely.